As we know, preparing for an interview is essential. It has a direct result in both your confidence and competence and ultimately, your performance. With competition for jobs on the increase, it makes sense to ensure you prepare for the different types of questions an interviewer may ask. Among these, behavioral interview questions are crucial to prepare for. To help, we’ve put together a complete guide to behavioral questions, including what the interviewer wants to find out by asking them and common questions to prepare for.
What is a behavioral question?
Interviewers ask behavioral questions to determine how you might react to an issue or situation you experience in the future. Your answer to a behavioral question will reveal to the interviewer evidence of how you will react, illustrated by examples of how you’ve handled similar situations in the past.
Behavioral questions are very different from other types of questions, like competency and knowledge-based questions. These can be answered by stating the qualifications or experience you have in using, for instance, a specific piece of software.
What an interviewer looks for when they ask behavioral questions
Common behavioral interview questions can be grouped in several categories:
- Teamwork – when an interviewer asks you a question about teamwork, they’re looking to verify your ability to work with others. The interviewer will want to know if you can cooperate with team members with different personalities. They will also try to gauge if you can handle conflicts in a healthy and constructive way.
- Adaptability – adaptability is a trait many employers look for. They’ll be searching for evidence of how you react when an unexpected work crisis occurs, or if the business needs to pivot its focus quickly. Your ability to problem solve may also be explored here.
- Communication – communication questions are asked to determine how you interact with team members, leadership, and clients. The interviewer will want to know how you represent your team or company, your customer service style, persuasion skills, presentation skills and how well you can convey technical information.
- Time management – the interviewer wants to find out how well you handle stress and if you have the organizational skills to juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities.
- Values and motivation – questions asking what drives you can reveal how you handle future failures and stress.
How to prepare for typical behavioral interview questions
To prepare for behavioral interview questions and come up with answers, you should go through examples of behavioral questions and think of a story from your past experience that shows your competence. If you can’t think of a story that shows a successful outcome, consider sharing an example where you failed, focus on what you learned from the experience and would do differently in the future.
It’s a good idea to prepare a few strong examples that could be adapted to various behavioral questions. If you can, try to think of a story for each of the following categories of questions. This should allow you to have something to draw from, no matter what type of behavioral question you’re asked.
Remember, an easy way to structure any interview answer is using the STAR method:
- S: Situation — explain the situation or background of the story
- T: Task — focus in on the specific task you’re referring to
- A: Action — explain the action you took
- R: Result — finish by discussing the result of the action
As COVID-19 was an unprecedented and difficult situation for both employees and businesses, employers may want to use behavioral questions to determine how you handled these changes personally. They may focus on your transition to remote working or how you helped your company through the challenges they faced. So, it’s a good idea to prepare an answer using an example around this topic if you can.
Examples of teamwork behavioral interview questions include:
- Tell me about an occasion when you needed information from a non-responsive colleague.
- Give me an example of a conflict you experienced at work.
- Tell me about when you’ve struggled to build a relationship with someone and how you overcame it.
- Describe an instance when you’ve worked closely with a teammate with a different personality to yours.
Examples of adaptability behavioral interview questions include:
- Tell me about a recent work crisis and how you got through it.
- What did you do to learn the ropes at the first job you ever had?
- Describe a difficult or awkward position you found yourself in and how you managed it.
- What’s a recent failure you’ve experienced and how did you deal with it?
Examples of communication behavioral interview questions include:
- Tell me about a time when it was vital for you to make a good impression on a client.
- Describe an occasion when you had to deal with a difficult client
- Describe a time when you needed to rely on written communication skills to get your ideas across to the team.
Examples of time management behavioral interview questions include:
- Tell me about a long-term project you were managing and how you kept everything to schedule.
- Describe how you handled overwhelming responsibilities.
- What’s a work-related goal you recently set for yourself and how did you make sure you achieved it?
- How have you managed conflicting priorities in the past?
Examples of values and motivation behavioral interview questions include:
- Describe to me your proudest professional achievement.
- Tell me about an occasion when you noticed a problem at work and took the initiative to correct it.
- When were you able to be creative at work and did you find this difficult or exciting?
- Describe an instance when you were unhappy at work and the actions you’ve taken to change it.
As you can see, behavioral interview questions need a little bit of thought and time to answer. This is why it’s crucial to prepare before the interview. We’ve put together other interview-specific insights to help any jobseekers currently looking for a new opportunity. If you haven’t already, submit your details with us today to start your job search.