41+ Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers in 2023
What is a behavioral interview? A behavioral interview consists of questions that ask the applicant to describe a specific challenge they faced in their career. Typically, employers use it to determine whether the applicant has the necessary abilities to succeed in the job.
What is a behavioral interview?
For most competency-based companies, a behavioral interview is the primary interviewing style. A behavioral interview is based on the belief that past behavior can reflect future behavior. In other words, past behavior can be the stepping stone to future success. In general, interviewers will try to find out how an applicant behaved in the past to decide whether he can be successful on the job.
Some companies make use of a structured behavioral interview during which the applicant can choose from a list of questions relating to each key competency of the position.
Table of Contents:
- What is a behavioral interview?
- Differences between a traditional interview and a behavioral interview
- Traditional interview questions
- Behavioral interview questions
- How to prepare for a behavioral interview?
- How to answer a behavioral interview question
- What are the top 10 behavioral questions in an interview?
- Behavioral interview questions by job competency
- 1. Behavioral interview questions about leadership
- 2. Behavioral interview questions about decision making
- 3. Behavioral interview questions about problem-solving
- 4. Behavioral interview questions on Communication
- 5. Behavioral interview questions about teamwork
- Bottom line
What are the differences between traditional interview questions and behavioral interview questions?
Traditional interview questions
Traditional interview methods are advantageous for some candidates. They offer the chance to demonstrate strong communication and presentation skills and are great for proving your industry knowledge. But talking in generalizations is one thing, and offering concrete examples is another.
More traditional interviews typically consist of personality-based, hypothetical and cognitive questions, for example:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why should we hire you?
- Why do you want this job? or Why do you want to work here?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What are your long-term career objectives?
- Why do you want to leave (or have you left) your job?
- Where do you see yourself in the next five (ten) years?
- What qualifications do you have that make you successful in this career?
- What would you do if someone asked you to overlook a problem with your project?
Behavioral interview questions
Behavioral questions primarily focus on the candidate’s past work performance. The foundation of behavioral interviews is that the best way to predict an employee’s future performance is to look at past behaviors in similar roles.
Using the structured behavioral interview model, it’s not “Do you know how to do it?” but rather “Tell me how you’ve done it and the result that you achieved.”
There are many fundamental differences between traditional and behavioral interviews. Here are some of the key ones that you should keep in mind. During behavioral interviews:
- Candidates are not given hypothetical questions about what they would do. Instead, they are asked about what they have done in particular situations in the past.
- Follow-up questions are very common. Much like in traditional interviews, these are used to ensure the answers are honest and accurate.
- The interviewers take notes. Unlike in other interview formats, it is common for interviewers to write things down throughout the interview to create a comprehensive candidate profile.
How to prepare for a behavioral interview
- Review the requirements for the position in the job description. Get an accurate understanding of what the company is seeking.
- Read through your resume carefully. Here, pay attention to the accomplishments section. These should reflect how your achievements match what the company is looking for. Also, ensure that you know which accomplishment or past job responsibility corresponds with which key competency of the position.
- Have in-depth answers about each accomplishment ready. Review the specifics about older projects and get to know the details. This will make you come across as credible and allow you to talk about the project results in great detail. Furthermore, think about the positive impact the project has had on the company.
- Identify accomplishments that correspond with the list of requirements for the position. Ideally, you should have at least one example for each required competency.
- Remember that the interviewer you’re speaking with has most likely been through behavioral interview training. In practice, this means they will be paying close attention to whether you mention all three major parts of a good answer. So, ensure that you clearly state the situation or problem, the action you took, and the positive effect on the company.
Most of your questions will likely be behavioral, but it’s best to be prepared for traditional questions as well.
How to answer behavioral interview questions
The best way to come up with strong answers to behavioral interview questions is by using the PAR technique (Problem- Action – Result). The key idea is to provide a detailed example of a time you have performed exceptionally well in your past job. By doing this, you will demonstrate your abilities and prove your value to the employer.
When answering a behavioral question, take these steps:
Problem – Describe the Problem or situation you faced.
Action – Describe what Action you took to overcome the problem and change the situation.
Result – Talk about the Result you achieved through your actions.
The following example shows how you might use the PAR technique to answer behavioral interview questions
Tell me about a time you had to go to beyond the call of duty to get the job done.
- Problem – I was working as a marketing assistant at a marketing agency. The team I was working with had an important presentation for a new client coming up. This was something we’ve been working on for weeks, as the client had the potential to bring over $1 million to the company. But the night before the presentation, the account manager decided to make several changes to the meeting time, location, and presentation.
- Action – That night, I stayed in the office along with some of the team members almost until midnight. We made all the necessary changed and reviewed everything to make sure the presentation was flawless. Then, we had to double-check that everyone invited to the meeting was informed about the change of time and venue. The next day, I arrived early to ensure everything ran smoothly.
- Result – The presentation was successful, and the client was impressed with the team’s work. In the end, our company ended up signing the client. The team has thanked me for my time and dedication and let me know they couldn’t have managed to finish everything on time without me. I’m happy to know that our joint effort led to great success for the whole company.
List of competency-base behavioral interview questions
Top 10 behavioral interview questions
A behavioral interview question will demand specific examples of what you have done about a problem in the past.
- Explain the steps you took to manage and complete this project for Salesforce.
- Describe the most difficult work decision you’ve had to make.
- Tell me about a time you had to strategically prioritize tasks to meet all your goals.
- Describe a time when you were under a lot of pressure. What was happening, and how did you overcome it?
- Tell me about a situation where you had to make a hard decision based on your values.
- Describe the most successful presentation you’ve given. Why do you think it was a success?
- Tell me about a time you managed multiple responsibilities and how you handled them.
- Give me an example of a time you worked efficiently under pressure.
- Tell me about a conflict you faced while working in a team and how you handled it.
- Give me an example of a project you worked for Adobe on where you had to search for information and be resourceful.
- Tell me about a time you were dissatisfied with your work. What could have made the situation better?
Behavioral interview questions by categories:
- Questions about Leadership
- Question about Decision Making
- Questions about Problem Solving
- Questions about Communication
- Questions about Teamwork
1. Behavioral interview questions about leadership
Tell me about a time you resolved a conflict between two team members.
Conflict resolution is a crucial leadership skill. Your answer will help the interviewer gauge how well you can handle conflict and mediate disagreements. In your response, focus on one specific example of a workplace conflict you helped resolve.
Reply: In my last position, two team members argued regarding the technical aspect of our sales process. To resolve this, I had each of them explain their perspective and the pros and cons of each approach. After a discussion with both, we optimized the process by combining aspects of their ideas.
What values do you try to promote and how do you embody them as a leader?
Your values as a leader will dictate the values of the entire team, so they must align with the company’s values. Your values will also affect your overall leadership style, so ensure you mention ones that align with the company culture.
2. Behavioral interview questions about decision making
Have you ever made a decision that wasn’t accepted at first? How did you handle this?
Anyone in a management position must make a decision that won’t make employees happy occasionally. Whether it’s a new policy or company-wide restructuring, the interviewer wants to understand your process of implementing change smoothly.
Describe the most difficult work decision you’ve had to make.
When answering this question, focus on framing the reply positively. Explain the reasoning behind your decision, whether that’s research, ethics, or experience. The interviewer will be looking to assess your confidence, strategic thinking, and self-awareness, so ensure you highlight those qualities.
Tell me about a situation when you had to make a hard decision based on your values.
Your values translate to your work and can strongly affect the company. This question is an excellent opportunity to explain how your values align with those of the company or how they could benefit the company culture.
3. Behavioral interview questions about problem-solving
Describe a time you couldn’t finish a project on time. What happened, and how did you overcome it?
This question can be tricky as it forces you to talk about a failure. However, the interviewer is trying to see whether you know why you failed and whether you’ve learned from the failure. So, instead of focusing on the problem, focus on how you overcame it and what you do to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Reply: When I started in my previous position, I habitually delivered materials before the deadline. Over time, this led to my workload getting more demanding, to the point where I could not meet the deadlines. I scheduled a meeting with my manager to discuss this, and we decided to define my workload better and hire an additional designer to collaborate with me and deliver projects on time.
Have you ever gone beyond your job description to solve a problem?
Every employer wants to see the employees go above and beyond if needed. And while it shouldn’t be a requirement, it does set you apart from other applicants if you show that you’re not afraid to do a bit of extra work to help the company grow.
Tell me about a time when you disagreed with someone at work. How did you resolve the conflict?
This question gives the interviewer insight into how you handle conflict and interpersonal problems. In your answer, you should focus on the solution you came up with or how you compromised during a disagreement at work.
4. Behavioral interview questions on Communication
How would you explain a complex technical concept to co-workers with less technical knowledge?
Although working in the same company, you may often need to communicate with employees from different departments who specialize in something entirely different. In the cases of cross-department communication, presentations, or speaking to less tech-savvy clients, it’s crucial to be able to break down complicated concepts.
Tell me about a time when you had to break the bad news to a team member or client.
Whether it’s layoffs or projects being delayed, no one likes being the one to deliver bad news. Still, it’s a skill that demonstrates compassion, confidence, and the ability to communicate effectively and avoid conflict. In your answer, think of a concrete example, no matter how important the bad news was.
Have you ever misunderstood important communication in the workplace? How did you rectify it?
It’s easy to misunderstand someone, especially if working under tight deadlines and with different communication styles. However, the interviewer will want to hear about how you handle misunderstandings and prevent them from repeating.
5. Behavioral interview questions about teamwork
When working in a team, what role do you usually assume?
This is your opportunity to highlight the skills you use when working in a team that are crucial to the position. Explain the role you typically take on in a team setting and the skills that allow you to excel in that role.
Describe a time when you managed to motivate your co-workers. What did you do, and what were the outcomes?
Here, the interviewer wants to know if you have motivational skills and your motivational approach. In your answer, give a specific example of how you managed to motivate those around you.
Was there ever a time you had to demonstrate leadership skills outside of a leadership role?
If an employer sees you as a confident leader from the start, there’s a higher chance that you will be at the top of their mind when a leadership role opens within the company. Even if you never held a managerial position, you have most likely still had to display leadership skills at some point in your career.
Behavioral interview questions are constructed to get you to share specific examples of your competencies and how well you can use them. The main difference between a behavioral interview and a standard interview is that you are expected to share stories rather than short answers. For a strong answer, use the PAR technique. That is, describe the problem, the action you took, and the results your action yielded. Most importantly, remember that there is no wrong answer. Be truthful and confident in your answer, and don’t stress over being wrong.