Common Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers
Behavioral interviews are growing in popularity. Corporations like behavioral interviews because they give them a glimpse of how the applicant will handle the issues they will face in the position. Interviewers like behavioral interviews because it gives them a glimpse of the applicant’s personality and character.
Behavioral interview questions are some of the hardest questions to answer. You must think back to your work experience and come up with specific times you exhibited the behavior. Then you must describe how you handled the situation, and that answer must be one that impresses your interviewer.
Preparation is Vital for Behavioral Interviews
Without preparation, these job interviews are prone to mistakes. Recall can be difficult when put on the spot, especially during an interview. If you do not remember specific examples of when you encountered these situations, you may struggle. Common mistakes at behavioral interviews include:
- Overusing “um” or pausing frequently.
- Telling stories unrelated to the question.
- Trying to make up a story that is false.
- Casting yourself in a negative light.
- Reflecting poorly on your professional relationships.
These are always at risk during these types of interviews if you do not prepare. It is hard to remember your experiences quickly if you have not thought of them in years but if you practice sample behavioral interview questions the time you spend will allow you to refresh your memory and answer the questions confidently.
What to Do if You Have No Answer
Behavioral questions assume you have experienced the situation the question refers to. You may not have an experience to provide. It is important that you do not try to make one up. Your interviewer will have enough experience evaluating applicants that they will easily be able to catch you in a lie. Instead, explain to the employer that you have not experienced the situation and describe what you would do if the issue occurred.
What to Do if the Answer is Not Flattering
Sometimes you will have an answer that does not reflect well on your candidacy. It may be a good idea to feign amnesia and act as though you have not had the experience before. It may also be useful to tell the interviewer what you would have done differently. An answer for a difficult question may be “Well, at the time I did this, but soon after I realized that the ideal way to handle it would be that.” Minimize the negatives and put more focus on how you would have handled the situation. Good answers will show the employer that you are willing to learn from your mistakes.
Seven Sample Behavioral Interview Questions:
1. Describe a Situation Where You Disagreed With a Supervisor.
A: Standard interview tips and techniques still apply. Do not speak negatively about any supervisors, coworkers or former jobs. It is acceptable to share a specific situation that occurred with a former boss, but do not go into detail about the disagreement. Focus instead on what you did to help the supervisor see your point of view.
You may be asked a follow up question, such as “Did they ultimately see your point of view?” Be honest. Did they follow your advice or didn’t they? The answer is not as important as the presentation. Do not sound bitter in your response if they did not. “They did see my point of view. They chose a different path, but they understood my concerns and beliefs in the end.”
2. Describe a Time Where You Needed to Present Complex Information in a Simplified Way.
A: This question is common for customer service, sales, marketing, management and IT jobs. Provide specific, job related examples. Did you create any documents? Did you practice its presentation? Did you run it by another employee? Remember to discuss all of the methods you used to simplify the information.
3. Describe a Time You Had to Adapt Your Style.
How to answer:
Questions about your ability to change your mind will be very common during behavioral interviews. The employer is going to be testing your decision making skills. They also are seeing if you are rigid in your beliefs. Share a time during your past employment where you needed to change your mind or adjust a process. No employer wants someone that is rigid in their beliefs.
4. Describe a Time Where You Were Wrong.
How to answer:
Companies do not want to hire someone that is always right. They want to hire someone that makes mistakes and learns from these mistakes. Questions about mistakes or errors in judgment are common. Come up with a few mistakes you can discuss if requested. Always make sure that you are able to follow up with what you learned from the experience and how it has affected your current decision making strategies.
5. Describe a Time Where You Had to Delegate Tasks.
How to answer:
Questions about managing others are not limited to management jobs. Businesses want to see examples of leadership in their employees. There are a variety of behavioral interview questions that are designed to see how well you handle a leadership role. The best way to answer this is to highlight why you delegated each task to its recipient. “I focused on the staff member’s strength. I delegated the tougher IT tasks to Todd because he was more experienced. Jeff had an eye for accuracy, so I had him run data check. I handled the overall QA since I had the most experience with the details of the project.”
6. Describe a Time Where You Were Unsure of the Next Steps.
How to answer:
Many jobs require a motivated self-starter that will seek out tasks and ensure they are on the right track. Employers are not looking for someone that gets confused and does not look for help. Many questions will focus on your own personal responsibility and how you handled issues that arose while you were working alone.
7. Describe a Time Where You Were Blamed for a Mistake You Did Not Make.
How to answer:
Personality plays a role in behavioral interviews. Employers want to see that you are well balanced person that knows how to handle themselves. These types of questions are designed to see how you handled situations that can be very personally stressful. Try to share examples that reflect positively on all parties involved. “Once I was blamed for not double checking marketing data, which drastically impacted one of our campaigns. Though I was not the staff member in charge of the data collection and analysis, I knew it would be unproductive to try to pass blame, so I simply asked what steps I could take to help resolve the problem. Afterward I spoke with the staff member in charge of checking data and let them know of the error so that both of us could ensure it would not be repeated.”
Behavioral Questions Differ from Job to Job
The questions are simply examples of behavioral interview questions. Behavioral interviews differ for every type of job. Employers are looking for specific experiences that relate directly to the position you are interviewing for. Questions may be reworded for each job. For example:
- Describe a time when you made a serious coding mistake. How did you handle it?
- Describe a time when you lost a sales prospect. How did you handle it?
- Describe a time when you ran an unsuccessful marketing campaign. How did you handle it?
Questions may be broad or specific. Be prepared for all types of behavioral questions and have answers ready.
Bring Out Your Personality – Drop Keywords
Behavioral interviews are designed to help employers get to know you as a person. Showcase your personality. Be energetic and a perfect example of a model employee. Also, do not forget to mention the qualities that made you an ideal candidate by mentioning your skills, experiences and qualifications at every opportunity.