During your job interview, you may be asked a few behavioral interview questions. These questions, unlike others, are focused on your character, skills, and abilities, rather than your experience and educational history.
Behavioral interview questions give interviewers an opportunity to learn more about how you would behave in certain workplace scenarios. For instance, an interviewer could ask you about a time when you handled a difficult situation, which will help them learn about how you respond to those types of scenarios.
The key to successfully answering a behavioral interview question is to respond by mentioning clear examples that showcase how your skills and experiences have prepared you for the position for which you are interviewing. This will give an employer a clear insight into your strengths, and your fit for the job.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the top eight behavioral interview questions and answers that you may encounter in a job interview. We’ll then explore a few tips on how you can answer behavioral questions effectively.
Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers
Here are eight common behavioral interview questions you can expect to come up in your interview, as well as some advice on how you can answer each of them.
#1: Tell me about a time when you were new to a task and had a lot to learn. How did you navigate this situation?
With this question, an employer is looking to earn more about how you adapt to new situations where you may have to take in a lot of information. To respond to this question, you should mention a time where you were assigned to a new project — or moved to a new job — and had to do a lot of research and learning to adapt to the scenario.
“During my last job, I was assigned to a project where we had to reduce rendering times on our website by 20%. I had very little experience in optimizing rendering times, so to navigate the situation I asked my co-workers for learning resources, and spent hours learning about new techniques I could use to accomplish the task I was assigned. Web development changes all the time, so I appreciate any opportunity to learn something new.”
#2: How do you navigate challenging situations? Please provide an example.
In the workplace, no matter how good you are at your job, challenges arise. An unexpected situation may come up, or you may realize that something is more difficult than you expected. In asking this question, an interviewer is seeking to learn about how you react to situations which may be difficult to handle.
“Once, in my last job, the systems that we used to manage our company’s calendar went down, right in the middle of our busiest month of the year.
When this happened, I had to quickly adapt by printing off paper copies of my boss’ schedule, and I had to work with other members of the sales department to ensure they all knew about my boss’ availability. I also called a meeting with the other administrative assistants to discuss how we could become more resilient to this situation in the future.”
#3: Tell me about a time when you had multiple responsibilities to manage. How did you respond to this situation?
This question is all about how you respond to environments where there may be a lot going on. To respond effectively, you should mention a specific example of a situation where you had a lot on your plate. You should use this as an opportunity to discuss both your good time management skills, and also how you are able to be flexible when new things come up.
“Last year, I was assigned to the team writing our company’s balance sheet. I was already working on our income statements at the time and helping with taxation compliance, and so I had a lot on my plate.
To navigate this situation, I spent a day prioritizing which tasks needed my time, and created a chart to help ensure I was able to meet all the deadlines imposed. I had to work a few extra hours, but in the end I was able to handle all the tasks I had been assigned.”
#4: Tell me about a time when you made a mistake. How did you fix your error?
Everyone makes mistakes — that’s a natural part of life. This question allows an interviewer to learn more about how you respond to mistakes, which is all that matters when an error has been made. To answer this question well, you should mention an example where you took responsibility over an error, then discuss the path you took to resolve your mistake.
“In my last job at the accountancy firm, I noticed that I scheduled a meeting with our global executives at the wrong time. This had the potential to throw off the schedules of some of our top executive team members.
When I realized my mistake, I immediately escalated it to my boss, who said that he appreciated my transparency. We worked to reach out to all executives notifying them that the wrong time had been scheduled for the event, and then we tried to reschedule the call for a new time.
The other executives understood the mistake, and were appreciative of the few days notice they received in advance of the call. Since making this mistake, I always double-check the times I schedule meetings, and use a timezone app to help reduce the chances of an error when I am scheduling an international meeting.”
#5: How do you respond when you disagree with someone at work?
Sometimes, you will have a disagreement with another employee on the approach that should be taken to solve a problem, or to complete a project. This question is designed to give the interviewer an insight into how you handle these situations. To answer this question, you should discuss a scenario where you disagreed with someone, and then explore how you went about resolving that disagreement.
“When I was working on a big data project last year, my manager decided that the hypothesis for the project should be changed mid-way through. I suggested that we should finish analysis under our current hypothesis, to make sure we don’t miss anything.
In this situation, I sat down with my manager to outline the benefits of completing the analysis with our current hypothesis, and carefully mentioned that changing the hypothesis during the middle of a project could result in us missing key insights.
After our discussion, we decided that the decision was too big for the manager to make alone, so we had all team members democratically vote on our next steps. In the end, my boss realized after talking with other team members that his approach was not prudent, and so we went with my recommendation.”
#6: How do you work under pressure?
This question is used by interviewers to learn about how you handle environments where you may be under pressure. If you’re applying for a job that may involve a high degree of stress, this question is more likely to come up. In your response, you should give a clear example of when and how you have dealt with pressure.
“Last year, I was assigned to help the growth team boost retention by 2% by the end of the quarter. This was a big project, and I only had about 50 days to complete it.
To respond to this situation, I met with other members of the growth team to discuss their current retention efforts, and we all agreed to make changes to our schedules to ensure that we could meet the new goal. I also helped set up a stand-up system to hold our team members accountable for progress toward their goals.”
#7: Walk me through an example of how you set goals.
Setting goals is an important part of any job. This question gives an interviewer a stronger insight into how you set goals that are both achievable and reasonable. To respond, you should discuss one specific goal you set, and the process you used to decide upon that goal.
“At around the middle point of working in my last job, I knew that I wanted to advance on to become a full-stack web developer in my career. Because I was only a front-end developer at the time, I decided that I was going to ask to be assigned to a small full-stack project, to give me a taste of what I could expect further down the line.
I started spending some of my spare time learning about full-stack development practices, and invested heavily in building a few side projects to reinforce my skills. This helped me build the skills I needed to position myself as a good candidate for a bigger full-stack web development task in the future.”
#8: Give me an example of how you have worked on a team.
Most jobs require some degree of collaborative work. In a job interview, an employer may ask you this question to get a better sense of how you work with others, especially if the role for which you are applying involves a lot of teamwork.
To respond, you should give a clear example of when you worked on a team, and discuss how you interact with your fellow team members.
“In my last job, I was a core contributor to our SEO team. My boss was leading a project to help us boost our domain authority, and I was assigned to optimize a number of our existing articles.
Every day, I participated in a stand-up with my colleagues to keep them abreast of my progress, and during this short meeting we also offered each other our help and support if anyone was encountering any troubles.
To ensure we met our goals, I constantly checked in with my team members, and I also decided to pair up with another team member who was assigned to a similar project so that we could share best practices.”
How to Prepare for a Behavioral Interview
Now that we’ve discussed a few of the top behavioral questions you can expect to be asked in a job interview, it’s time to explore how you can prepare for these questions.
Tip #1: Research the company in advance
Before the interview begins, you should spend as much time as possible getting to know the company, and the job for which you have applied.
Review the job posting again, read over the company’s website, and familiarize yourself with their products and services. This will help you provide answers in your interview that are more relevant to the position you are looking to earn.
Tip #2: Practice behavioral interview questions
Use the questions we have discussed in this article to help you prepare for some of the questions you may be asked in your interview.
One effective way to prepare for your interview is to ask a friend or a family member to conduct a mock interview. This will allow you to simulate what you can expect in your real job interview, and get real-time feedback based on your answers.
Tip #3: Think of examples before the interview
In addition, you should make a list of examples in your head that you can cite in your interview.
For instance, if you’re preparing to discuss challenges you have faced, you may want to think of a specific scenario where you encountered a challenge. Having this in your mind will mean that, if you are asked a question about work challenges, you’ll not have to think of a new example: you’ll already have one ready.
Behavioral interview questions are a common part of most job interviews, and can come up at any stage of the hiring process.
Interviewers use behavioral interview questions to get a better sense of who you are, and how you have handled various different scenarios in the workplace. Your answers will help an employer better determine whether you are the right fit for the job.
By practicing for a behavioral interview using the questions in this article, you’ll be able to prepare for many of the common questions you are likely to be asked.