Behavioral Interview Questions

Behavioral interviews are a type of job interview that is used to assess how an individual will respond to given situations. During these interviews, employers ask questions about past behavior to determine whether an individual has the skills and traits needed for the job.

Behavioral questions focus on how applicants have handled challenges in the past and their thought processes behind particular decisions. There are several types of that employers use including:

  • Competency-based questions
  • Problem-solving questions
  • Situational questions
  • Motivational questions
  • Leadership questions
  • Stress management questions
  • Self-awareness questions

This article seeks to explain each of these question types and provide examples of what they may look like during a job interview.

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What Types of Behavioral Interview Questions to Expect

With each step of the recruitment process, it is essential to consider how a candidate's past experiences and decisions can inform their future potential; this Current Section focuses on uncovering that information.

Behavioral Interview Questions
Behavioral Interview Questions You Should Expect 4

Behavioral interview questions are a type of inquiry used by recruiters to gain insight into an applicant's competencies, skills, and behaviors.

These types of questions typically ask the applicant to provide examples from previous jobs or activities which demonstrate their abilities in areas such as problem-solving, decision-making, communication skills, and time management.

The responses provide the recruiter with valuable evidence about how the candidate has applied these abilities in past contexts.

Behavioral interview questions generally start with phrases like “Tell me about a time” or “Describe how you handled” followed by a situation or problem for which the individual had to use their skills or knowledge.

For example: “How did you prioritize tasks when working under tight deadlines?” This will allow an employer to understand how the candidate handles similar situations that may arise in the new role they would fill if hired.

To answer such a question accurately and effectively, applicants must be prepared with specific examples from past work experience that demonstrate their competence in dealing with time management issues.

In addition to assessing technical skills, behavioral interview questions also help determine whether a candidate possesses qualities such as creativity and initiative which could benefit them on the job.

Questions related to these characteristics focus on how well candidates have demonstrated non-technical traits like leadership ability and teamwork in prior roles they have held.

By understanding a candidate's behavior patterns in various scenarios employers are better able to select individuals who fit best within their organization's culture while meeting job requirements simultaneously.

Transitioning smoothly into subsequent sections covering competency-based questions allows employers to further evaluate an applicant's potential for success within their organizational structure.

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Competency-Based Questions

Competency-based questions are designed to assess a candidate's behavior in specific situations.

Describe a time when you faced a challenge that requires the candidate to reflect on how they responded to difficult circumstances and what strategies they used for problem-solving.

Give an example of a successful team project that enables the interviewer to observe the applicant's ability to collaborate with others, work effectively as part of a group, and lead toward achieving common goals.

Describe a time when you faced a challenge?

Analyzing a challenging situation and formulating an effective solution is an essential skill for any successful professional. This involves being able to identify the issue, assessing its severity, and making decisions under pressure.

To be successful in this endeavor, one must also possess strong communication skills in order to effectively collaborate with colleagues and stakeholders. Moreover, it is important to remain composed when dealing with pressure in order to maintain composure and focus on finding the right solution.

In order to demonstrate this skill during a job interview, one should provide a concrete example of a time they faced a difficult task or challenge while communicating effectively and remaining composed despite feeling overwhelmed by the demands of the situation.

For instance, they could describe how they worked as part of a team on a project and were able to successfully complete it within tight deadlines by utilizing their organizational skills and leveraging their contacts.

By providing specific examples that showcase their ability to handle challenges while communicating effectively and staying calm under pressure, candidates can prove that they possess all the necessary qualities for success.

Give an example of a successful team project?

An example of a successful team project is one that utilizes effective communication, collaboration, and organization in order to meet set deadlines while achieving the desired outcome.

The three main components are: dealing with failure, time management, and problem-solving. A successful team project often requires all members to understand how their individual tasks contribute to the larger goal.

Listen actively and openlyContribute ideasPrioritize tasks
Respect opinions of othersWork togetherCreate a timeline
Identify misunderstandingsShare responsibilitiesEstablish roles & responsibilities
Ask clarifying questions–> Adapt plans as needed–> Delegate tasks appropriately

In addition to these skill sets, it is also important for teams to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable contributing ideas and voicing any concerns they may have. By doing so, teams can ensure each task is completed on time with quality results that meet expectations.

This type of successful team project emphasizes the importance of problem-solving questions in order to address any potential issues or conflicts that arise during the course of working together.

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Problem-Solving Questions

Problem-Solving Questions explore a candidate's capacity to identify, evaluate, and resolve challenges in the workplace. This type of question is employed by recruiters to assess how well a candidate can work through a problem independently or within the context of a team.

Problem-solving questions may focus on analyzing past experiences, providing hypothetical solutions to potential problems, or discussing approaches to working with an unfamiliar team dynamic.

When answering problem-solving questions in an interview setting, it is important for candidates to illustrate their ability to think critically as well as demonstrate their knowledge of various problem-solving strategies.

For example, when addressing a hypothetical situation such as “How would you handle a difficult customer service issue?” the candidate should provide concrete examples from prior experience that display effective communication and conflict resolution skills.

Furthermore, they should explain how they would draw on specific techniques such as active listening or seeking feedback from the customer when attempting to solve the issue.

Additionally, highlighting any successful strategies implemented in previous situations can further showcase the applicant's problem-solving abilities.

It is essential for applicants to be able to effectively communicate their approach toward resolving issues and demonstrate their understanding of team dynamics while responding to these types of questions during an interview.

Showcasing an individual's capacity for critical thinking and thoughtfully crafted responses will help them stand out amongst other candidates vying for the same position.

Moving forward into situational questions allows recruiters insight into how well an applicant can adapt and apply existing knowledge in multiple scenarios which are essential skills needed in any workplace environment.

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Situational Questions

Situational questions can be thought of as a kind of puzzle, requiring the candidate to use their creative problem-solving skills in order to arrive at an effective solution. These kinds of questions typically involve hypothetical situations that require quick thinking and the ability to come up with flexible deadlines or creative solutions.

For example, an interviewer might ask: ‘How would you handle a difficult customer who was not satisfied with your product?' In this case, the candidate must draw on their experiences and knowledge to provide a thoughtful answer that demonstrates how they would resolve any conflicts quickly and professionally.

Candidates should also prepare for situational questions by understanding how their behavior has impacted previous employers or clients. This type of question seeks to understand how the individual will react in various situations and what strategies they might employ when faced with unexpected challenges.

For instance, if asked about a situation where they had to work under tight deadlines, candidates should highlight how they were able to effectively manage their time and prioritize tasks in order to meet those deadlines.

When answering these types of questions, it is important for candidates to remain honest while also displaying enthusiasm for taking on new challenges. Doing so will help them demonstrate both their problem-solving abilities as well as their motivation which is essential for any job role.

By adequately preparing for situational interview questions beforehand, candidates can show employers that they are well-equipped with the necessary skillset required for the position at hand. From there, transitioning into motivational questions becomes much easier as employers can see firsthand that applicants have what it takes to succeed in the role.

Motivational Questions

Describing a time when one had to motivate a team is an important topic for any interview.

This question seeks to test the candidate's ability to lead and inspire others, as well as their effective communication skills.

Difficult people can be challenging to work with, thus it is important for the interviewer to gauge the applicant's strategies in dealing with such individuals.

This may include techniques such as active listening, setting clear expectations, and providing constructive feedback.

Describe a time when you had to motivate a team

A common challenge in the workplace is motivating a team, and this is an example of a behavioral interview question that can be used to gain insight into an individual's approach.

When asked to describe a time when they had to motivate a team, candidates should provide examples of how they have successfully inspired others. Specifically, they should discuss:

  • How they identified what motivated their team
  • The strategies they employed to create momentum and engagement
  • Their understanding of team dynamics and how it impacted their success.

By answering this question, employers can better understand an applicant's ability to inspire others and handle challenging situations. This provides valuable insight into how the candidate may approach similar scenarios in the future.

Transitioning from this topic, employers may then ask about how the candidate handles working with difficult people.

How do you handle working with difficult people?

Navigating interactions with those who present difficult personalities can be an arduous task, yet it is often necessary for successful workplace collaboration. Dealing with stress in such situations is paramount, as this can help provide perspective and clarity on how to communicate effectively.

Keeping lines of communication open and allowing time for both parties to state their perspectives without judgment or interruption helps to create a safe space for resolution. It is also important to understand the root cause of the difficulty and aim to address that rather than merely the symptoms.

Engaging in active listening, being respectful, and maintaining an even-keeled attitude when approaching conflict resolution are all beneficial strategies when working with difficult people.

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Leadership Questions

An effective leader must be able to make difficult decisions and manage conflicting priorities.

To assess a candidate's ability to do so, one could ask them to describe a time when they had to make a difficult decision and how they handled conflicting priorities.

Through the answers, the interviewer can gain insight into the candidate's thought process, problem-solving skills, and ability to prioritize tasks in order to accomplish their goals.

Describe a time when you had to make a difficult decision

Analyzing a challenging scenario and making an informed decision can be a difficult process. A successful resolution of the situation, however, requires deep reflection and critical thinking to manage competing interests and reach a mutually beneficial outcome.

In order to demonstrate practical experience with decision-making in high-pressure situations, interviewers may ask about specific instances where the candidate has had to make a difficult choice.

From identifying risks associated with vendor contracts to resolving internal conflicts between coworkers, it is important for candidates to be able to provide concrete examples that illustrate their ability in conflict resolution and decision-making.

A primary focus of this kind of behavioral question will be on how the candidate responded under stress, including whether they:

  1. Evaluated all options thoroughly;
  2. Considered long-term results;
  3. Relied on data-driven decisions;
  4. Managed any opposing views or stakeholders effectively.

By giving thoughtful responses that highlight their capacity for problem-solving, candidates have a chance to showcase their skillset in this area. This can provide valuable insight into how they would react when presented with similar scenarios in the workplace.

How do you handle conflicting priorities?

Having the ability to manage competing priorities is an important skill for any successful professional. By understanding how to prioritize tasks, one can demonstrate their capacity for time management and strong interpersonal skills.

When faced with conflicting priorities, it is essential to assess the situation by evaluating the importance of each task and determining which should be addressed first. Developing a timeline of when each task must be completed can help in managing competing priorities and ensure that all projects are finished within the desired timeframe.

It is also necessary to consider available resources and delegate tasks accordingly to maximize efficiency and productivity.

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Stress Management Questions

Stress management is an important area of consideration when interviewing potential employees. Describing a time when one had to manage a stressful situation, and how they handled criticism are two key questions to ask.

Such inquiries will provide insight into the individual's capacity for dealing with challenging circumstances and their reaction to criticism, both of which are essential in any job role.

Describe a time when you had to manage a stressful situation

When confronted with a difficult situation, the ability to manage stress is essential. Being able to identify the sources of stress and develop strategies for dealing with it is crucial in order to remain productive and efficient.

When asked how one has dealt with a stressful situation in the past, an example could be given of a time when:

  • Time management was used as a tool to create a plan and prioritize tasks;
  • Communication was employed to explain the goals or objectives of the task;
  • Conflict resolution tactics were implemented to address any issues that may have arisen among team members;
  • The research was conducted into resources available which would assist in the completion of said task;
  • Reflection on successes and challenges after completion of the task was done in order to evaluate performance.

The ability to combine creativity and resourcefulness while handling challenging situations demonstrates one's true capabilities when faced with adversity. This transition then leads to discussing how one deal with criticisms from peers or supervisors.

How do you handle criticism?

Investigating the veracity of a hypothesis can elicit an emotional response from an audience. When it comes to handling criticism, it is important to remain professional and strive for a resolution that satisfies all parties involved.

This means being able to maintain composure and responding with tact despite any negative feelings experienced at the moment.

In addition, it is essential to take responsibility for mistakes or shortcomings and use the opportunity as a platform for learning and development. Doing so shows that one not only takes criticism seriously but also has self-awareness which is both key traits when dealing professionally with criticism.

It is also beneficial when dealing with criticism to be aware of nonverbal cues such as body language, eye contact, and tone of voice, among others in order to better understand how both parties feel about the situation at hand.

Furthermore, actively listening and asking questions can help clarify any misunderstandings that may arise while resolving issues. By having these skills in place one can not only handle criticism effectively but also foster productive conversations leading towards solutions that benefit everyone involved.

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Self-Awareness Questions

Self-Awareness is an important factor to consider when evaluating a potential hire. The ability to self-reflect and understand one's strengths and weaknesses is essential for anyone entering a professional setting, as it will allow them to be aware of their own limitations and strive for improvement.

Self-awareness questions are designed to gauge how well the interviewee understands themselves, their motivations, and their skillset. For example, an interviewer may ask questions regarding time management techniques or areas where the applicant could improve on self-reflection.

It is important to note that the answers given by the interviewee do not necessarily need to reflect perfect self-awareness; rather, they should show that there is some level of understanding about their own abilities and what needs improving upon.

An honest assessment followed by concrete examples of how progress has been made over time can demonstrate growth in this area and make a strong impression on an interviewer.

Furthermore, the responses should demonstrate that the candidate has put effort into developing deeper insight into themselves beyond just surface-level knowledge.

The answers provided provide insight into how prospective employees handle feedback, criticism, and personal development – all traits which contribute towards professional success.

By asking these types of questions during interviews, employers can gain valuable information about applicants' ability to think critically about themselves as well as identify areas for further development if needed.

Ultimately, this type of question provides a unique opportunity for both parties involved in the process to gain insight into each other before making decisions about potential new hires.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is your greatest strength?

An individual's greatest strength lies in their emotional intelligence and problem-solving skills.

With a firm grasp on both, one can effectively navigate challenging situations with finesse and diplomacy; qualities that are often highly sought after in the workplace.

Such attributes come from strong self-awareness and an ability to think critically even when under pressure.

It is a powerful asset that can be utilized to optimize productivity, boost morale, and foster relationships of trust among colleagues.

What do you like to do outside of work?

When asked what they like to do outside of work, many job applicants may respond by listing various hobbies or activities that they enjoy.

Socializing and team building are two popular options amongst those applying for roles, as these activities not only provide an opportunity to build relationships but also to develop important skills such as communication and collaboration.

They also allow individuals to break away from the rigidity of their daily routine, which can be beneficial for mental health and well-being.

Furthermore, engaging in activities outside of work provides a great way for people to form new friendships and explore potential career paths that would otherwise remain unexplored.

What do you think makes a successful leader?

An effective leader is one who possesses a unique amalgamation of qualities that coalesce to form an aura of success.

Chief among these attributes is the ability to foster teamwork and encourage collaboration; successful leaders are those who recognize that no individual is an island, and instead understand the power of collective problem solving.

Moreover, such individuals must have strong problem solving skills themselves, in order for them to be able to effectively guide other members of their team through difficult scenarios.

To summarize, a truly remarkable leader is someone who can bring out the best in all those around them with their vision and decisive leadership.

How do you handle criticism?

When it comes to handling criticism, one must resist the urge to be defensive and instead focus on self-evaluation.

It is important to identify the validity of criticism in order to gain insight as to what can be improved upon.

A successful approach toward handling criticism includes engaging in active listening, demonstrating understanding and expressing gratitude for feedback, as well as being able to separate constructive criticism from personal attacks.

Taking time for self-reflection after receiving criticism can help shape future decisions and foster a more productive attitude.

Describe a time when you overcame a difficult challenge.

When presented with a difficult challenge, I approach it by first breaking it down into smaller components. This allows me to better assess the situation and determine what resources are necessary to complete the task.

Time management also plays an important role in this process as I am able to prioritize different tasks based on their importance and timeline. By efficiently managing my time, I am able to focus on problem solving while ensuring that all deadlines are met.

Working through these challenges has enabled me to become more organized and detail-oriented in my approach to tackling them.


The behavioral interview questions provided are a great start for employers to assess the right candidate, but they should also ensure that they probe deeply enough to get a better understanding of their skills, motivations, and goals.

An allegorical tale can be used to illustrate how these questions can help employers identify the best potential employees.

Imagine two ships setting sail from the port. The first ship is captained by an individual who knows the route well and has prepared his crew for any possible challenges along the way.

The second ship, on the other hand, is captained by someone who does not know the route, is uncertain about what lies ahead, and has not provided his crew with direction or training.

While both ships set off in search of distant shores, it becomes quickly evident which one will reach its destination safely.

Thus, as employers embark on their search for new employees, they must ask probing behavioral interview questions to ensure they have all the necessary information to select a qualified applicant who can successfully navigate them through their journey toward success.

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