It’s time to practice for your interview! While knowing what experiences you have had in the past is very important, knowing how to answer behavioral questions can make the difference between being hired or not. Behavioral questions are designed to learn how you would respond to a specific workplace situation, and how you solve problems to achieve a successful outcome. Here is a list of possible behavioral questions that they could ask you divided into different sections.
With teamwork behavioral questions, interviewers get a sense of whether or not you like working on a team, how well you work in groups, and what role you tend to take on a team project (leader, mediator, follower..). These questions also show whether you are easy to get along with, which is important in almost any work environment.
- Talk about a time when you had to work closely with someone whose personality was very different from yours
- Give me an example of a time you faced a conflict while working on a team. How did you handle that?
- Tell me about a time you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague
Client-facing skills behavioral questions give interviewers a way to see how you react to different kind of clients. What would happen if the client is frustrated, or if there a large number of clients waiting and how you can handle that pressure.
- Tell me about a time when you made sure a customer was pleased with your service
- Describe a time when you had to interact with a difficult client. What was the situation, and how did you handle it?
- When you’re working with a large number of customers, it’s tricky to deliver excellent service to them all. How do you go about prioritizing your customers’ needs?
Ability to adapt
The ability to adapt is a very important soft skill that is required in any job. The way you answer these questions will give a sense of how you are able to adapt in a new working space and how flexible you are to change and adjust to new situations.
- Tell me about a time you were under a lot of pressure. What was going on, and how did you get through it?
- Give me an example of a time when you had to think on your feet in order to delicately extricate yourself from a difficult or awkward situation
- Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with the situation?
- Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure
Time management skills
Time management is another very important skill to have. When one of these questions is asked, make sure you are clear about how you managed your time carefully, what tools did you use and why did those tools help.
- Describe a long term project you managed. How did you keep everything moving along in a timely manner?
- Tell me about a time you set a goal for yourself. How did you go about ensuring that you would meet your objective?
- Tell me about a time you had to be very strategic in order to meet all your top priorities
The ability to communicate is closely evaluated in a job interview. Some recruiters will not ask questions directly related to communication in the interview but just see how the candidate is able to communicate during the interview. However, other recruiters might ask you behavioral questions that show the candidate’s communication skills with a real life example.
- Tell me about a successful presentation you gave and why you think it was a hit
- Tell me about a time you had to explain something fairly complex to a frustrated client. How did you handle the situation?
Motivation and values
Motivation and values behavioral questions are asked to see what values and what kind of personality the candidate has. It is important to always be honest and show how your personality could be an asset for the company.
- Tell me about a time you saw a problem and took the initiative to solve it rather than waiting for someone else to do it
- Tell me about your proudest accomplishment in work or school
- Tell me about a mistake you’ve made. How did you handle it?
- Tell me about a challenging situation you overcame at work
- Tell me five things that you are NOT
How to prepare to answer behavioral questions
Read the job description carefully. Make a list of the top skills or qualifications it calls for. Think of a story that demonstrates your ability in each area. Following the STAR technique, write your stories down, including the situation, task, action and result. Then, practice saying them out loud several times. Your answers should only take about 1 ½ to 3 minutes. In order to make a good impression, telling stories that are related to each one of these questions is crucial. Telling stories is the best way to be remembered by the recruiter.
Practice is the best way to succeed at behavioral interviews. If you would like to practice doing behavioral interviews, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Grace Kutney (email@example.com).
Oliver De Croock ’24, Student-Athlete at Lawrence University majoring in Economics and Career Peer Educator. Connect with me on LinkedIn.