How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions

Woman Sitting At Interview

In the 1980’s, industrial psychologist Dr. Tom Janz introduced a method of interviewing called the “Behavioral Interview.” Research shows that this interviewing style is extremely effective, and as such, it has rapidly increased in popularity. The premise is that the best predictor of future behavior is your past behavior.

Whether you are on a job hunt, or are planning to interview someone, it is important to know how to accurately prepare for answering behavioral questions. This is the most common style of interview.

When developing a behavioral interview, employers consider the types of soft skills that will be needed for the position. When preparing for this type of interview, a job seeker should consider all these skills as well. By keeping these important traits in mind, a candidate can successfully prepare for any amount of questioning. Preparing for behavior interviews will also help you answer more tradition interview questions.

To answer these questions think of a relevant example from your past, such as your studies, work experience (paid and non paid), community work and personal experiences. Using the STAR model can help to structure your example.

To properly answer a behavioral interview question, there is a three step process referred to as “STAR“.

  1. The Situation or Task you were in
  2. Action that you took
  3. Result of that action

Situation/Task – describe the context for the activity you are talking about. Discuss what You were required to do.

Action – what you actually did to complete the task – your approach, processes used, how you managed yourself and the task.

Result – the outcome of your actions, the contribution you made in response to the situation. Quantify if possible and make sure the result is positive.

Behavioral Interview Question Example

Question: “Describe a situation where you have had to deal with a difficult person.”

Answer: “I was transferred to a new project at my previous company to replace a beloved member of the team. My new team leader exhibited hostility towards me and I found myself left out of vital communications and meetings. After a few weeks I was able to talk her into a one on one meeting. When we laid out all of the key objectives for the team, the previous employee’s role, and then discussed goals that I could set to make sure I was able to serve as a quality replacement things started to look a lot better. In our discussion, we also identified a few underlying issues with management that she had been carrying around with her. In uncovering all of these sentiments, she was able to clearly define her situation and achieve an understanding with her supervisors. In the end, the entire team morale improved, I was able to exceed my goals and the company itself became more profitable from our teams increased performance.”

Here are a few other example Behavioral questions

  • Describe a time when you were faced with a difficult situation that demonstrated your ability to deal with it.
  • Tell us about a time when you had a number of conflicting priorities and were required to prioritise your tasks.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to deal with a conflict with a work colleague or a customer.
  • Please tell me about a time, you had to make a quick decision.
  • Tell us about a situation where you wish you had acted differently with someone in a work situation. What happened? What did you do?
  • Describe a situation where you had to work with others to resolve a problem?
  • Tell us about a time when you had to exercise leadership. What approach did you take, what was the result?
  • Describe a situation where you had to work on a team project. What was your role, and what was the result?
  • Tell me about a time when you saved company money or improved a process. What did you do?
  • Give me a time you made an important mistake in the workplace.

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