Behavioral questions are an increasingly common focus of job interviews. Let’s take a look at how to approach questions of this type, as well as 20 examples of common behavioral questions to get you ready for your next interview.
Jun 01, 2020
What are behavioral interview questions?
Behavioral questions ask you to provide a concrete example of something you’ve done in your career (or, sometimes, outside it), usually to test whether you can display a certain skill that the interviewer thinks you’ll need in the job. For example, let’s say the interviewer wants to test your decision-making skills. They might ask, “Can you tell me about a time when you had to make a particularly difficult decision?”
The best way to answer these questions is through the ‘STAR’ method, which stands for ‘Situation’, ‘Task’, ‘Action’, and ‘Result’. So for this question, you could answer as follows:
“In my current role there was a period when several members of our team were off sick, including the lead partner – I was the most senior partner remaining so I had to take on some of the lead partner’s duties (the Situation). As we were short-staffed, I had to ensure the team was able to cope with their current workload, and I was faced with decisions about taking on new clients (the Task).
I arranged brief one-on-one catch-ups with each team member to check on their capacity and had new client queries redirected to me so that I could coordinate them and ensure they were responded to as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, I had to turn down a couple of new clients as I didn’t want to compromise the quality of our existing service and risk one of the team members making a serious mistake from being overworked (Action). However, we managed to make it through this difficult period successfully and our lead partner was happy with my decisions upon her return (Result).”
Not everyone likes behavioral questions – but one advantage from an interviewee’s point of view is that they can be answered according to this fairly straightforward formula. They also force you to focus on a specific accomplishment with a concrete result (reducing the risk you’ll give vague answers).
Examples of behavioral interview questions
What behavioral questions are you likely to face? Skills commonly tested for include communication, client relations, problem-solving, decision-making, teamwork, time management, resilience, leadership, ethics, drive, initiative, and more. Here are 20 common examples, along with the skills they are designed to test.
The good news is that preparing an answer for one question will probably provide you with answers for several, as long as you can slightly adapt your example to make it relevant.
Go to your interview fully prepared by thinking over your achievements in your career in advance, and working out what skills they show – and hopefully, you’ll be strolling out of your interview with a smile!