Do you have an important job interview on the horizon?
Many people find formal interviews to be rather stressful and have difficulty performing well. The secret to acing the interview is to be as prepared as possible.
There is a large number of standard behavioral questions that are likely to be asked during most job interviews. Knowing the types of questions that you are going to be asked provides you with a chance to prepare your answers.
Let’s take a look at some standard behavioral interview questions and answers that are sure to impress.
- What Are Behavioral Interview Questions?
- Key Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers
- Describe a Time When You Worked Well Under Pressure
- How Do You Tackle a Challenge?
- How Do You Handle Your Mistakes?
- How Do You Set Your Professional Goals?
- Describe a Time You Achieved Your Goal
- Describe a Goal You Failed to Achieve
- Have You Ever Had to Make an Unpopular Decision at Work?
- What is Your Approach to Teamwork?
- What Do You Do if You Disagree with a Work Colleague?
- Are You Good at Motivating Your Teammates?
- Describe a Situation When You Had to Motivate a Colleague
- What Do You Do When Difficult Work Situations Arise?
- What is Your Most Important Career Accomplishment to Date?
- How Do You Prioritize Work?
- Describe a Time When Your Workday Ended Before You Finished Your Work
- Describe a Time When You Tackled a Tough Situation with Your Manager
- How to Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers?
- How to Pick the Perfect Success Stories?
- Feel Like You Need More Guidance?
- Final Thoughts
What Are Behavioral Interview Questions?
Traditional interview questions focus on your qualifications and various aspects of the job. However, behavioral questions focus on skills and personality traits. They revolve around the skills that applicants would use to solve certain work-related issues.
Behavioral questions help interviewers to understand how different applicants will perform in the workplace. On paper, several different applicants may have the same skills and education. However, they are likely to tackle situations and problems in very different ways.
It’s all in the answer…
In modern corporations, different departments are often composed of several colleagues working closely together. It is important to select applicants that can fit well into the team environment and company culture. The answers to behavioral questions reveal whether certain applicants will be able to adapt to the already established environment.
Key Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers
Certain behavioral questions are very likely to come up during an interview. This gives you the chance to prepare your answers in advance so that they make the maximum impact. However, it is important to try and make your answers sound as spontaneous and original as possible.
Interviewers are likely to hear the answers to standard behavioral interview questions time and time again. If your answer sounds too rehearsed and generic, the interviewer is likely to become bored.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common behavioral interview questions and the best ways to answer them.
Describe a Time When You Worked Well Under Pressure
This interview question is likely to come up if the job you are applying for is high-stress. The interviewer needs to ensure that you can work well under pressure. You need to provide an example of how you have successfully done this in the past.
When giving an example, try to put it in the workplace setting so that the interviewer can picture it. Describe the setup and briefly explain why the situation involved so much pressure. You should then reveal the skills you used to successfully tackle the situation and overcome the stress.
How Do You Tackle a Challenge?
No matter what you do, things can go wrong in any type of working environment. This question is asked to gauge how well you deal with difficult situations. While some people simply crumble under the pressure, others use the energy of the situation to their advantage.
When answering this question, you need to focus on a challenging situation you have tackled in the past. Make sure it is clear that it was not your fault that the situation was challenging. You should go through the steps you took to tackle the situation and how your strategy was successful.
How Do You Handle Your Mistakes?
Everyone makes mistakes from time to time and how you handle those mistakes reveals a lot about yourself. Some people try to hide their mistakes and hope that nobody else will notice them. However, successful people admit their mistakes and take action to resolve them in the best possible way.
It is important to be completely honest when answering this question and give a real example of a mistake that you made. Explain exactly what the mistake was and the situation that led up to it. You then need to explain the way that you handled the mistake to ensure that the situation was solved.
What lesson was learned…
As a follow-up to this question, it is a good idea to explain what you learned from the mistake. While mistakes are inevitable, the strongest professionals can always turn negatives into positives. For example, your commitment to avoiding future mistakes could have inspired you to focus more on your work.
How Do You Set Your Professional Goals?
The interviewer wants to find out what your professional goals are for the future. This helps them to determine how long you are planning to be in the company and whether you are goal orientated. Successful professionals regularly set themselves goals and take steps to achieve those goals.
Start by revealing the factors that lead you to set a goal. These could be the pursuit of enhanced career opportunities by learning new skills. Explain the steps you take when setting that goal to help make sure you are successful.
Describe a Time You Achieved Your Goal
This question invites you to talk about a specific goal that you have achieved in the past. It is important to make sure that you choose a professional achievement that is important to you. The goal that you choose to talk about can tell the interviewer a lot about your personality.
It is best to answer this question by giving an example of a goal you set for yourself in the past. You should reveal the motivation for setting this goal, followed by how you went about achieving it. Explain the feeling of accomplishment you experienced when you finally achieved your goal.
Describe a Goal You Failed to Achieve
This question is asked to find out how you deal with adversity. Nobody is successful all the time, and dealing with disappointment is an important part of life. Sometimes, knowing when to throw in the towel is more important than continuing when there is no chance of succeeding.
To answer this question, choose a large and unrealistic goal that you set for yourself and failed to achieve. Explain that although you tried your hardest, it simply was not possible to achieve the goal at the time. Describe how you came to the realization, dealt with the situation, and ultimately what you learned from the situation.
Have You Ever Had to Make an Unpopular Decision at Work?
This question is likely to be asked if you are interviewing for a job as a manager. Managers of all levels need to be able to make important decisions quickly while following company policy. There are sure to be times when the right decision for the company will be unpopular with certain employees.
Your answer should highlight the fact that the decisions you make are the best for the company. Give a specific example of an unpopular decision you make and the reasons behind the decision. Go on to show how you handled unsatisfied employees to make sure they understood and respected the decision.
What is Your Approach to Teamwork?
Most jobs require working as part of a team to some extent. The interviewer needs to be sure that you understand the importance of teamwork and value it. You need to be able to demonstrate that you are a team player who possesses strong communication skills.
Give an example of how you worked closely as part of a team in the past. Your answer should highlight the fact that each person in the team has different valuable skills. Being able to recognize and utilize these individual skills can make the whole team much stronger.
What Do You Do if You Disagree with a Work Colleague?
While many people are forced to work as part of a team, you may not always see eye to eye with colleagues. It is important to be able to always put the work and needs of the team first. Also, disagreements or conflicts should be solved as quickly and smoothly as possible.
The story that you share should highlight your strong communication skills. Briefly outline the issue that you had and demonstrate the way that you solved it. You should give an example of how you took the initiative and managed to compromise with your colleague.
Are You Good at Motivating Your Teammates?
There are likely to be times when members of your team lack energy or enthusiasm. Even if you are not the manager, being able to motivate people is a very desirable skill. You may be called on to take charge and motivate the team to make sure everyone performs well.
You need to think of an example when you have had to do this in the past. Make sure you outline the specific tactics and skills that you used at the time. Finish the answer by describing how your methods were effective and the direct outcome.
Describe a Situation When You Had to Motivate a Colleague
While this question sounds similar, it features an important difference. This time around, you are asked to give a specific example of a colleague who needed to be motivated. There are several potential pitfalls when answering this question that need to be avoided.
If you claim that you have never had to motivate a colleague, the interviewer is likely to question your team spirit. When working as part of a team, it’s important to make sure that everyone performs well. Failing to notice that a colleague is not performing well and needs motivation could be a red flag.
Careful not to criticize…
When giving an example, it is also important to avoid criticizing the colleague you refer to. This indicates a lack of empathy, which can make it difficult to work as part of a team. You need to demonstrate compassion along with the motivational skills that you utilized.
What Do You Do When Difficult Work Situations Arise?
This is a question that allows you to highlight your problem-solving abilities. Work will not always be smooth sailing, and difficult situations can occur. It is important to have the skills at your disposal to deal with issues as quickly as possible.
Start by outlining a previous time when a difficult situation arose at work. Although it was not your fault, it fell on you to deal with the situation. Outline the steps you took to solve the issue, making sure that your specialist skills are emphasized.
What is Your Most Important Career Accomplishment to Date?
This question is asked to help the interviewer discover your values. If you have been in the workplace for several years, you are likely to have had several different types of accomplishments. The accomplishment that you choose to talk about helps to show what is important to you.
Start by talking a little about the accomplishment and why it is important to you. Next, outline the steps that you took to achieve this accomplishment. You can complete the answer by explaining the impact the accomplishment has had on your career.
How Do You Prioritize Work?
Many people feel overwhelmed when they have a large number of different tasks to complete. Instead of working through their tasks, they start to procrastinate. The interviewer is trying to find out if you can work well when there is a lot to do.
You should be able to give an example of a time when you had a lot on your plate. Explain how you begin by assigning a priority to each of the different tasks. Instead of worrying that everything may not get finished, this allows you to complete each task in the best order.
Describe a Time When Your Workday Ended Before You Finished Your Work
The interviewer is asking this question to determine how committed you are to your work. Many people simply do the bare minimum and clock out as soon as their contracted hours are finished. This may mean that there is unfinished work on their desk, which can create problems within the company.
You should start the answer by explaining how you prioritize your work. Doing this effectively helps to make sure that important work is never left until the end of the day. If critical work is unfinished at the end of the day, you should be willing to stay a few minutes to finish it.
Find your focus…
Employees do not expect staff to stay in the office every minute of every day. In fact, in many companies, this simply is not possible or even practical. Employers are sure to value a willingness to focus on tasks and make sure they are taken care of.
Describe a Time When You Tackled a Tough Situation with Your Manager
There are likely to be times at work when the manager makes a mistake that can cause a problem. This can be a very difficult issue to tackle. While employees may not want to make the manager look bad, they need to put the needs of the company first.
It is best to describe a situation that could have been very volatile. This helps to highlight the fact that you had the skills to tackle the situation in the right way. Explain how you made sure the situation was dealt with while saving the feelings of your manager.
How to Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers?
Preparation is key, and you should do as much research about the company as possible before the interview. Understanding the company values and working environment will guide you towards the questions that are likely to be asked. Here are some other things to bear in mind when you are preparing for the behavioral interview questions.
Match Your Skills and Qualifications to the Job
You should have a good understanding of the required skills for the job you have applied for. It is a good idea to make a list of all the skills that the interviewer is likely to be looking for. Make sure that your interview answers show that you have all of these skills as well as other valuable skills.
Make a List of Possible Examples
The question examples shown above should guide you to the types of answers you need to give. However, there may be other potential questions depending on the job you are interviewing for. Try to think of other examples of behavioral questions you could be asked.
Rather than simply giving brief answers, you should be prepared to illustrate them with examples. Sharing stories about your previous work helps the interviewer to picture you at work. If they can view you as a strong employee, you are much more likely to get hired.
How to Pick the Perfect Success Stories?
As you have seen, there are lots of different behavioral questions that could be asked during an interview. Trying to prepare a success story for every question would take countless hours of preparation. In addition, trying to memorize answers to all of the potential questions is likely to be nearly impossible.
Fortunately, there are a number of tricks you can use to save yourself this hassle. First of all, it is important to realize that the interviewer is only likely to ask three or four behavioral questions. This means that you only need to prepare a few answers that can be adapted to fit a range of different questions.
Success Story Categories
There are five main categories of behavioral interview questions. These are problem-solving, teamwork orientated, leadership questions, interpersonal skills, and questions related to pressure, challenges, or stress. You should prepare a success story for each of these categories that can be adapted to the specific question.
Before the interview, ensure that you have five different behavioral question answers that you can explain convincingly. When you are asked a behavioral question, you first need to identify which of these categories it belongs to. This will guide you to which of your behavioral answers you should provide and how you need to adapt them.
Highlight Your Most Valuable Skills
Before you start to form your answers, you need to know which skills you want to highlight. Each answer you provide should reveal certain skills and show the interviewer that you are a strong candidate. To do this, start by making a list of all the skills that are likely to be valuable to an employer.
Looking through the job description will give you an insight into the types of skills that are required. There are also likely to be a large number of connected skills that would be appreciated. Valued skills include communication, problem-solving, organization, leadership, collaboration, and the ability to work under pressure.
Weave Your Skills into Your Answer
You should naturally reveal your skills rather than stating them outright. This is usually done by revealing the steps that you took to solve a problem or become successful. The interviewer will be listening out for those skills, so you can be sure that they will not be missed.
You should include at least two different skills in each of your answers. You may find that starting with the skills and forming your answer around them helps you to do this. Make sure that each of your five prepared answers reveals a different part of your personality.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Start by writing out your five answers and editing them so that they are as concise and detailed as possible. It is important to practice these answers several times to make sure you remember them. Practice speaking in front of the mirror to make sure that your body language is natural and you make eye contact.
Feel Like You Need More Guidance?
You might want to start with the basics by reading the Best Times Of Year To Apply To Jobs.
Next, take a look at my more in-depth guide to behavioral-related questions. I suggest my What Is Your Work Style, How Would You Describe Yourself, or how about What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment, Why We Should Hire You?, What Are Your Career Goals, How Do You Define Success, How Do You Handle Conflict, or How Do You Handle Stress.
But, there are more aspects to an interview than just answering questions, what about What To Wear To An Interview, Strengths And Weaknesses For Job Interviews, Best Questions To Ask In An Interview, or even How To Ace The Second Interview.
It is important to prepare carefully before a behavioral interview. The interviewer will be looking for clues into your personality in your body language. Therefore, remember to practice your body language along with your interview technique.
Many people tend to wave their hands around when they are nervous, which can be very distracting. However, sitting with your arms folded across your chest can make you seem guarded or like you have something to hide. Take deep breaths during the interview to remain calm and make sure you maintain eye contact with the interviewer.
Let’s Go Ace That Interview!