Top Ten Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers
Whew! You’ve made it to the interview portion of your job application process — Congratulations!
Interviews can be nerve-wracking, but they don’t have to be. With some preparation and practice, you can ace a behavioral interview and get the job you’re after.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to prepare for some of the trickier behavioral interview questions hiring managers might ask, provide expert example answers to some of the most common behavioral questions, and offer tips for getting through the interview with poise.
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What is a behavioral interview?
First, let’s take a look at the difference between a behavioral interview and other common types of interviews.
There are four basic types of interview questions:
- Closed-ended — These questions seek specific details, like “Why did you leave X Company?”
- Open-ended — These questions dig a little bit deeper than closed-ended questions and reveal your communication style and skill set. For example, “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?”
- Situational — Situational questions focus on hypothetical future events and how you might handle them, such as “What would you do if you caught a colleague stealing from the company?”
- Behavioral — Behavioral interview questions look at possible real work or school events from your past and how you responded to them.
Generally speaking, employers ask behavioral questions for the same reason they ask other interview questions: to get a sense of your abilities to perform the job requirements. However, interview behavioral questions differ from other interview questions because they show hiring managers who you are and how you perform through various challenges. Behavioral-based interview questions aim to know how you think, solve problems, and gauge whether or not you are a good fit for the team and company.
Common Behavioral interview questions by theme
5 behavioral questions about teamwork
- Describe a time when you put your needs aside to help a colleague.
- Can you give an example of a time you helped contribute to team culture or success?
- Give an example of a time you had a conflict with a colleague, and how you handled it.
- How do you work with people with different personalities?
- Describe a time in which your colleagues disagreed with you.
5 questions about time management
- Give an example of how you’ve juggled multiple deadlines.
- Describe your system for keeping track of multiple projects.
- How do you establish priorities while scheduling your work?
- Describe a long-term project that you were responsible for, and how you managed to keep everything on schedule.
- Describe a time when you were under a heavy workload. How did you handle it?
5 behavioral interview questions about communication
- Give me an example of a time in which you had to persuade a co-worker.
- Describe a situation in which you convinced someone to see things your way.
- Describe a time in which you used written communication to make a point.
- Describe a time in which your active listening skills really paid off.
- Describe a time where communications failed you and a client.
5 questions about client-facing skills
- Describe a time when communications failed you and a client.
- Give an example of how you made a good impression on a client—how did you do it?
- Give an example of a time you didn’t meet a client’s expectation, and how you addressed the situation.
- Can you give an example of a time you’ve dealt with a difficult client?
- Give me an example of when a client expected one thing and you delivered another. How did you deal with the situation?
5 questions about adaptability
- Describe a time in which you had to make a tough decision on the spot.
- Provide an overview of how you handle change.
- Give me an example of how you juggle multiple priorities.
- Tell me about a time you were under a lot of pressure. What was going on, and how did you get through it?
- Give some examples of how you’ve adapted to different people and environments.
5 behavioral-based questions about problem-solving
- What steps do you follow to study a problem before making a decision?
- Give an example of a time you used research skills to solve a problem.
- Describe a time in which you came up with an innovative solution to a problem.
- What’s the toughest challenge you’ve had, and how did you handle it?
- Describe a problem you’ve tackled that demonstrates your analytical ability.
5 questions about motivation
- What keeps you passionate and engaged with work?
- What kind of challenges do you seek at work?
- How have you motivated others?
- What have you accomplished that demonstrated your willingness to work?
- Describe a time in which you had to inspire and lead a group of dissatisfied workers.
5 questions about conflict resolution
- How do you deal with conflicts?
- Describe a time when you mitigated between two colleagues.
- Describe a time when a colleague disagreed with you.
- Describe a time in which you had to persuade others to compromise.
- Describe a situation in which you had to handle an angry customer.
5 behavioral interview questions about leadership
- Describe a project you’ve undertaken that demanded a lot of initiative.
- Describe a time in which you took the initiative.
- Have you ever had to discipline or counsel an employee?
- Describe the characteristics of a successful manager.
- Provide me an example of when your leadership skills failed you.
Top ten behavioral questions with answers
Let’s explore some of the most common behavioral-based interview questions and possible answers for them.
Behavioral question: Describe a time in which your colleagues disagreed with you.
Tip: When employers ask this question, they are often looking for how you resolve conflict and to test your communication, teamwork and persuasion skills. An excellent way to respond to this challenging question is by telling a story about a time you were able to avoid conflict and turn the situation into a collaborative effort.
Behavioral question: Tell me about a time when you were under a heavy workload. How did you handle it?
Tip: This behavioral interview question presents an opportunity to display your ability to manage your time, ask for help and work efficiently under pressure. When preparing your answer to this question, be very specific about exactly what you did to manage your workload and why it was effective.
Behavioral question: Describe a time when you had to make a last-minute decision.
Tip: Interviewers usually ask this question to see how well you can think on your feet. We’ve all had to make work decisions on the fly, so it’s likely you have more than one in your arsenal. Pick one that highlights a win and how your decision helped the company.
Question: What have you accomplished that demonstrates your willingness to work?
Tip: Here, interviewers are looking for how much effort you’re willing to put in to achieve something and your thought process for getting there. Details are vital when answering this question.
Behavioral question: What’s the toughest challenge you’ve had, and how did you handle it?
Tip: Employers ask this behavioral interview question across industries and job levels because they want to know what you’re made of. You don’t have to dig too deep for the worst work experience you’ve ever had. Think of a problematic situation you faced that you successfully overcame with your problem-solving abilities.
Behavioral question: Describe when you came up with an innovative solution to a problem.
Tip: When answering this question, you want to show your creativity, ability to solve problems, and to stand out from the crowd, your collaborative side.
Behavioral question: How have you motivated others?
Tip: This behavioral-based question is meant to assess your ability to lead, persuade and work with others, as well as your sense of empathy and ability to communicate effectively. Think of a time you’ve led a team, presented at a meeting or conference, taught a class, or sold a product.
Behavioral question: How do you establish priorities while scheduling your work?
Tip: Potential employers ask this question because they want to know how well you manage your time. When preparing your answer, describe your usual process for prioritizing work and be specific. If you use time management or project management software, then provide the name of the program. End with an explanation of how your process enables you to succeed at work.
Behavioral question: Describe a time when you had to defuse an angry client (or coworker/colleague).
Tip: Interviewers often ask this question to see how well you can turn sticky situations into positive ones. It tests your listening and verbal communication skills, ability to stay cool under pressure and your professionalism. Have a good success story ready to respond to this question and be clear about what you did to turn the situation around.
Behavioral question: Give an example of how you’ve adapted to different people and environments.
Tip: This behavioral interview question tests your flexibility and ability to go with the flow. It’s often asked during job interviews for fast-paced work or for environments that change frequently. Frame your answer to highlight your ability to take on multiple responsibilities while adapting quickly and maintaining a professional attitude. Emphasize successful outcomes with measurable achievements that result from your adaptability.
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How to prepare for behavioral interviews
Anyone can answer behavioral questions confidently — even job seekers who are just starting their career or don’t have much work experience — by using the time-proven STAR method when preparing for their interview.
Here’s how to use the STAR method: to prepare for your behavioral interview:
- Describe the situation, such as when you had to compromise with a manager, coworker, colleague or classmate or meet a tight deadline.
- Name the task you had to complete during the situation. For example, perhaps you had to research an event space for a company.
- Explain the action or actions you took to complete the task or overcome the challenge you faced in the situation. For example, maybe you delegated duties to get something done.
- End your story by revealing the result of your actions while emphasizing your achievements, like getting a promotion.
Behavioral Interviewing Tips:
- Tell your behavioral interview answers like a short story with a beginning, middle and end, and stick to the point.
- Be wary of rambling. It can be easy to talk too much when you’re nervous and you feel like you’re on the spot. Stay focused and keep each answer to about one-minute long
- Be honest. Don’t create imaginary anecdotes because you don’t think you have real-world examples to refer to. It’s acceptable to answer with situations from school or volunteer work, for example, if you are interviewing for your first professional job.
- Review the job description closely and take note of the requirements when preparing to answer behavioral questions for an interview. It’s impossible to know which questions interviewers will ask, so the best way to prepare is to know what the employer is looking for and touch on those key points when answering.
- Highlight your achievements at the end of each answer to behavioral-based interview questions, just like you would when writing your resume and writing your cover letter.
- Be specific when formulating your answers to behavioral questions. Provide enough details, so the interviewer knows what you have done and how you did it. Describe what you achieved after the situation and what you learned in the process.
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Behavioral interview questions FAQ
What is a behavioral interview?
Behavioral interviewing is a method employers use to assess your past behavior in order to predict how you might behave in a hypothetical future situation. Answering behavioral questions can feel daunting, but a little thought and preparation using the STAR method will help you answer them confidently.
How do you answer behavioral questions when you don’t have work experience?
When you don’t have professional work experience, draw on your skills, school experience, volunteer or community work, or personal projects to answer a behavioral interview question.
What’s the best way to prepare for a behavioral interview?
Follow these steps to get ready for interview behavioral questions:
- Study the job description for requirements matching your skills and experience.
- Recount your work, school and community experience, and review major achievements.
- Write up stories about your experiences, framing them around the STAR method.
- Practice your responses with a trusted friend or family member and ask them to review your answers.