11 Behavioral Questions To Prepare For In An Interview

The job interview process can be stressful enough as it is, without the prospect of having to recall your accomplishments and experiences off hand to an interviewer. This style of interviewing, in which the interviewer asks the interviewee to recall specific experiences from their work history in order to get a better idea of how they qualify for the job, is called Behavioral Interviewing.

This is, perhaps, the most stressful form of interviewing. It puts the focus almost entirely on you and your qualifications as opposed to simply discussing the position and enquiring about your responsibilities and success at your previous positions. There are, however, ways you can prepare for such an interview. Before going to the interview, do a little research on the company and the position, and then go through this list of 11 common questions that Behavioral Interviewers are most likely to ask (although not necessarily in this order).

1. Give me an example of a time you disagreed with a coworker or supervisor. How did you handle that?

Interviewers like to understand how well you work with others in order to determine if you would be a good fit for the company. To be prepared for this question, think about a time when you and a coworker had a disagreement. It could be anything from a personal argument to a matter of company policy, and describe how the issue was resolved.

2. We all make mistakes we wish we could take back. Tell me about a time you wish you had handled a situation differently with a colleague.

An interviewer is not likely to ask you questions regarding the same subject matter two times in a row. Providing multiple examples for similar questions, however, demonstrates the extent of your professional experience and your ability to handle multiple situations with the same professionalism.

3. Describe a time when you had to interact with a difficult client. What was the situation, and how did you handle it?

If you are applying for any kind of position that deals exclusively in conversing with customers or clients, the interviewer is definitely going to ask you about your past experience in this field. Customer complaints are usually a dime a dozen, no matter what company or industry you are working in. Think of a situation when you had to deal with someone who was upset, either in person or on the phone, and what you did to deescalate the situation.

4. 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?

Multitasking and handling various situations at the same time is a crucial skill that employers look for in employees, particularly in customer service or retail industries. Think of a time when you felt swamped or overwhelmed with customer inquiries and how you handled prioritizing the customer needs at hand and made a plan to attend to everybody’s concerns in a professional and efficient manner. 

5. Give me an example of a time you managed numerous responsibilities. How did you handle that?

Much like dealing with multiple customers at once, interviewers like to know how you prioritize and accomplish multiple tasks in a limited window of time. Think about a time when you had multiple tasks to handle and how you went about handling it. And be sure to note the outcome of the situation.

6. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

This might be the most important question an interviewer can ask you. It demonstrates what you are most passionate about in your personal or professional life (although most interviewers will ask for your greatest professional accomplishment), as well as your potential to fulfill the job requirements for the position you are interviewing for.

7. Describe a time or situation where you had to work under pressure or in a fast-paced environment. What did you do and what was the outcome of your actions?

Some of these questions will start to get repetitive. Trust me, I know from personal experience. This is where you want to avoid repeating similar instances that you have already used to answer a previous question. When preparing for the interview, be sure to recall a number of situations for any one question in order to avoid running out of answers when the questions begin to sound the same or repetitive.

8. Tell me about a time when you were responsible for delegating tasks to others. How did you handle the situation and what were the results of your decisions?

You may not have held a management position in which you were responsible for directly managing other employees, but everyone has usually found themselves in a position of leadership at one point or another. This could be something as minute as a coworker not showing up and you have to decide how to tackle all of the clean-up duties or divide his responsibilities with customers and clients among yourself and those coworkers present. 

9. Give me an example of a time when you took the initiative at work to see that a job or task was completed.

For this question it is important to try and recall a task or scenario that nobody wanted to deal with but that you ended up either volunteering to handle or simply got the short end of the stick. If it wasn’t ultimately your choice to handle the task be sure to convey the situation as though you did volunteer to show initiative, but a scenario in which you actually did volunteer is much better to use because you can convey it with confidence and honesty.

10. We all have professional and personal goals that we work to achieve. Tell me about one of your goals and how you have achieved, or are working to achieve it?

This is simply an opportunity for the interviewer to find out your aspirations and life goals. You can be as specific as you want with this question, although try and apply your answers to the job position you are applying for and how it can help you accomplish one or more of your personal and professional goals.

11. Tell me about a time when you were able to motivate others on your team. What did you do and were you successful?

For this question, try to recall a time when you and your coworkers were all down about having to handle a task or situation that was really stressful or unpleasant. Then discuss how you went about solving the problem and encouraged your coworkers to get the job done quickly, but effectively. This could be anything from providing positive feedback or just keeping a positive attitude about handling the situation. This a great opportunity to show the interviewer that you have a positive attitude about your job and that you can encourage others to work harder and take pride in their work.

When you find yourself in a Behavior style interview, it is important to remain calm and take a few seconds to think before you answer each question. Don’t feel pressured to respond to a question right away. Taking a few seconds to gather your thoughts shows professionalism and character, and the interviewer might even appreciate it because they get a chance to drink some water or simply collect themselves for a moment. Remember, it’s not any fun having to interview people for jobs either!

Behavioral style interviewers also like to hear your responses in the STAR technique. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This is a basic outline of how you should respond to each question the interviewer asks. First describe the situation of the response, then list the tasks that you needed to accomplish or resolve, followed by the actions you took to resolve them, and finally, what the results of your actions were. We will cover more on the STAR technique next week, but for now, get a friend or family member to go over these questions with you and you will be prepared for any interview that comes your way in no time. Good luck!