How to Ace Behavioral Questions during a Job Interview

Behavioral questions are tough. They require you to draw from previous work experience and give the interviewer concrete examples of situations when you managed to best showcase your skills. To truly dazzle a potential employer, you’ll have to appear confident and knowledgeable, which can be hard to pull off while interviewing for a job. Not to worry: with a little practice, you’ll be less prone to babble and more likely to make a good first impression.

Behavioral questions are more focused than traditional interview question and require job seekers to describe how they handled various workplace-related situations at previous employments. These questions will be tailored to the job you’re applying for. Depending on the specifics, you might be asked anything from how you manage to stay productive when dealing with an overwhelming to-do list to how you motivate apathetic underlings to reach their true potential.

Hiring managers ask behavioral questions because they believe that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation. This way, they can determine if candidates have the core competencies or skills required to excel once they join the team. We’ve gathered a few examples of common behavioral questions job seekers should be prepared to answer during an interview.

Behavioral Questions

General questions

The employer might start you off easy, with a few questions meant to reveal more about your work style and soft skills. Here are a few examples:

  • Tell me more about how you manage to work effectively under pressure.
  • Can you give me an example of a work-related goal you achieved recently? What specific steps did you take you accomplish it?
  • Have you ever postponed making an important professional decision? Why?
  • Have you worked with a team before? What were the challenges?
  • When you work on multiple projects, how do you prioritize?
  • Can you describe a stressful work-related situation you encountered during your career? How did you deal with it?

There’s only one way to make sure you’ll be able to come up with good answers: rehearse them. Write down your answers to the questions above and read them over and over again, preferably out loud. Ask a friend to come by and conduct a mock interview; and encourage them to come up with a few questions of their own. When it comes to job interviews, there’s no such thing as over-prepared.

Questions about leadership

Hiring managers ask leadership-related questions to measure your ability to inspire, motivate, and manage others. They are usually something in the lines of:

  • Give a few examples of circumstances when you demonstrated your leadership skills.
  • Tell me about the last meeting you conducted. How did you manage to keep everyone focus on the agenda?
  • Tell me more about your ability to delegate. Have you ever experienced any trouble in this department?
  • Did you ever coached or mentored a colleague? What were the results?

If you’re applying for a more senior-level roles, you need to prove that you’ll be able to jump in and assume a leadership role at a moment’s notice. Showing how you did this in the past will win you serious bonus points in the eyes of the potential employer. On the other hand, the interviewer might ask leadership questions if you’re there for a position that’s lower on the corporate ladder as well. They usually do this to figure out if you’d be able to gain cooperation from other colleagues or departments, manage projects, or qualify for a promotion later on. Either way, you should be prepared.

Questions related to conflict management

Nobody likes to talk about conflict during a job interview, since it’s often an uncomfortable topic for both parties involved. Unfortunately, when you work with people, disagreements are bound to arise somewhere along the way. Consequently, proving you’re able to deal with conflict professionally is a must. Here are a few questions that might come up:

  • Did you ever deal with a difficult supervisor? How did that go?
  • Have you handled a difficult situation with a client? How?
  • What do you do when you disagree with a coworker? How about a manager?
  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a certain workplace rule or project approach. What did you do?

Don’t let these questions catch you off-guard. Instead, be ready to provide some context about each situation in particular and a few details about how you handled it. Make sure you don’t bad mouth former employees or disclose too much information about the unpleasant realities at your former workplace. Keep the focus of the conversation on the key actions that you took to resolve the disagreement in a productive and professional way.

Problem-solving questions

Nowadays, most jobs require a certain degree of problem-solving skills. Employers are interested in hiring individuals who stand out due to their creativity, resourcefulness, and initiative. Interviewers need to figure out if you can use logic and critical thinking to analyze a situation and if you have the motivation to experiment with different approaches until you get to the desired outcome. It’s important to understand the requirements of the job in order to figure out what the employer is interested in. Here are a few examples of problem-solving questions recruiters are likely to ask:

  • Tell me about a time when you had to solve a difficult problem. What was your approach?
  • Were you ever praised for anticipating certain issues no one else thought of?
  • What was the most innovative idea you had at your previous job?
  • Can you give me an example of a time when you came up with an unexpected fix to a problem your supervisors were struggling with?
  • Tell me how you overcame the last professional obstacle you were faced with.

There are plenty of variations to the examples above, so prepare a few solid stories that best showcase your problem-solving skills.

There’s no secret recipe that will help you nail a behavioral interview. However, there are a few tricks that will increase your chances of making a good impression. Thoroughly research the position beforehand. Set aside some time prior to the interview to recall your past successes. Carefully craft and practice some stories that best display your abilities. In short: prepare. For even more examples of behavioral interview questions, take a look here.


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