Behavioral interview questions are interview questions that focus on whether in the past, you have handled different job scenarios that demonstrate your temperament, talent, personality, and skillset - needed for the job you are interviewing for.
Such questions provide an interviewer, ample understanding about how you would act if a particular similar scenario occurred; the rationale is that your previous experience will indicate potential performance.
Behavioral interview questions are easy to identify. The questions are usually asked in the format such as...
'Describe a time when...'
'Tell me about a situation when...'
'Give me an example of ... when ...'
'Have you ever ...'
People often have difficulty in answering behaviorial interview questions - either because they are not fully cognizant of the intricacies and methodology of behavioral interviews, or they have not taken time to prepare for them the right way.
Below are 15 Behavioral interview questions, categorized by Teamwork, Leadership, Conflict management, Time management and Problem solving. Most of these questions are answered using the STAR method.
The STAR method is one of the most effective and popular methods of preparing for and answering behavioral interview questions. If you are not familiar with the STAR method then you can first read about it here [STAR Method], and then come back to review below questions.
Companies today are looking for leadership skills not only from employees with leadership, supervisory, and managerial roles - but also from employees who are individual contributors.
Following are some frequently asked questions in Leadership
By asking this question the interviewer wants to assess your leadership experience.
Take the opportunity of this question and showcase your leadership skills, leadership style, and leadership experience.
Use leadership traits in your answer, but do not just give a one liner like 'I find team building skills to be the most useful.'. Follow it up with one or more concrete examples from your past jobs where you demonstrated this skill successfully.
Best way to do this is to keep your STAR stories ready and answer in the STAR method.
By asking this question the interviewer wants to access your leadership skills
There are several different styles of leadership that will benefit a variety of organizations and teams, depending on the niche and administration. Review the various leadership styles, and decide which of them best fits your approach. You may find that you prefer combining two styles or that certain situations require one style, while other situations need another. Understanding what these types of leadership mean will help you describe your own leadership strategy correctly during your interview. Give an example of your leadership and the outcomes of your efforts.
I call myself a transformational leader because I empower my team to set targets that are closely associated with the priorities of the organization. Under my previous job, I met with the members of the team every quarter to evaluate the company's priorities and assess the success of overall team objectives. We realized during one of our meetings that our new target was too department-focused and that we had lost track of how it benefited the company. We adjusted our team goal to address clearly the quality issues which affected our business. I also held individual meetings with each team guide to help them in outlining their personal, organizational goals. For example, one of my team members wanted to produce twice as many outcomes, so we worked together to refine her target to produce a smaller number of outcomes with better quality and assurance rating. This transformative leadership style helped my team to achieve an overall company target and improve the overall quality of our work.
Decisiveness is one of the key hallmarks of a successful leader. As a leader you have to make decisions, and some of these decisions are tough to make - potentially impacting projects, teams, clients etc.
Answer this question using the STAR method, taking an example from your one of your previous jobs where you took a tough decision. Craft your answer in such a way that you showcase your other leadership traits in addition to Decisiveness - such as Emotional Intelligence, Empathy, Teamwork etc.
Building and developing cohesive teams that work together efficiently to achieve the goals and visions laid out by a leader - is a key leadership trait. As a leader you have to hire and fire team members, develop and nurture them, motivate them, delegate efficiently, and manage conflicts among them.
Answer this question using the STAR method, taking an example from your one of your previous jobs where you built a successful team. Craft your answer in such a way that you showcase your other leadership traits in addition to team building - such as Emotional Intelligence, Empathy, Vision, Planning etc.
Leaders are visionaries, and that's what differentiates leaders from managers.
To prepare for this question refer back to your past jobs and list down your work and achievements that contributed positively to the organization.
It need not be a dramatic change, it could be an innovative project that added, a task that added to the revenue stream, a new client etc.
Following are some frequently asked questions in Teamwork
In performing my duties as an IT consultant, my team was tasked with implementing a data recording tool in order to more effectively extract relevant information from client databases.’ This became quickly problematic as we found that our client requested that the database should be programmed in a language which was unfamiliar to my colleagues.
I approached this problem by consulting with other programmers involved with working for our client. I found that it would be more effective to reorganise tasks suited to my colleague’s individual competencies, agreeing with the alternative team’s lead supervisor to delegate tasks appropriately. This was effective because it mitigated any potential time-management problems. Instead of wasting precious resources, we productively capitalised on the areas in which we specialised in, such as working on the technical solutions of the task whilst members of the other team engaged in designing the basic infrastructure.
As our teams worked under two separate managers, I considered that multi-managing the various tasks of our employer might lead to confusion. In this respect, I found that communication was going to be highly significant in making sure that our tasks were completed efficiently and within our client’s delivery time-frame. I setup weekly consultations which would were designed to review both of our team’s progress and provide a framework where colleagues could give feedback and suggest appropriate ways to resolve any potential issues which may arise.
I found this invaluable because we were better able to complete the project co-managing individual tasks together and deliver the project on time. Perhaps most importantly; we worked to allocate technical problems on the basis of colleague suitability, which proved to be a highly effective and efficient way to deal with the tasks, particularly as time-management became a much more crucial issue towards the project’s end. As a team we appreciated the importance of communication, mitigating any breakdown in the workload or suitability for our delegated tasks.
In my previous role as a Supervisor, I oversaw the daily operations of inventory management. My manager at the time had become overbooked with requests and delegated the responsibility of training a new cohort of employees to me within a fixed deadline. In performing my ordinary duties, I realised that I would not be able to complete both tasks and also sign-off on all of our firm’s continuing freight deliveries.
After consulting with my manager, I decided to change the normal process of training staff in order for it to coincide with tasks I was already engaged to, helping colleagues with their queries as I accepted deliveries and followed up on my primary deadlines. I had to carefully consider how I could resolve both objectives. In the end, I found it much more effective to train staff both 'on' and 'off the job' in order to give my colleagues the full attention they required as they executed their own duties. Continual time-management was critical to the success of resolving these issues, in addition to communicating effectively with staff to prevent future issues arising which could have been resolved at first instance. Allocating additional non-working hours to create the training program and delivering it in addition to my duties helped me to develop a greater appreciation for efficiency and multi-managing long-term tasks.
I was able to deliver the training while successfully acting out my duties in signing-off orders. I found it important to manage my expectations realistically and plan accordingly to mitigate any risks involve which could adversely affect the modest time-frame specified by my Manager.
As an Associate Analyst at my previous company, I was tasked with rectifying spreadsheet errors on a transaction our firm had been working on for 2 months. The scale of this task was significant as it required me to remodel the information in order to ensure that it was consistent. This became problematic because my line-manager brought forward the deadline by two weeks, whilst I was, at the same time, already engaged with requested work to produce a competitor report on the South American fixed equities market.
In order to more effectively handle the situation, I met with my manager to discuss the specific requirements and time restraints of the project. This allowed me to break down the process into smaller segments which I could attribute a time factor which synergised well with my ordinary work requirements. Micro-managing the individual requirements of the task allowed me to produce more detailed solutions which I was then able to put in place whilst simultaneously carrying out the requirements of my primary role as part of my team.
As the deadline approached, I identified more efficient ways to prioritise my manager’s task. Having worked in data procurement prior to my current role, I understood the nuances required of the task. Working with other employees’, I was able to categorise and separate which primary tasks were “urgent” from those that had a more lenient time-scale and plan accordingly. I planned and organised my team teams to carry out strategic organisational processes which more efficiently dealt with inventory-related problems and disputes. This was significant because it gave me more time to spend on my manager’s task, identifying possible errors and being able to correct them with time to submit it to my lead for review.
As an Operations Manager, I was in charge of managing staff, which included supervision of inventory and stock related duties. I noticed that one of my new colleagues had started to neglect his duties as he was finding it difficult to manage his workload. This started creating complications in the general productivity of the group that I oversaw and so I sought to rectify the problem.
I invited my colleague to an informal conversation over a cup of coffee. In my experience as a manager and supervisor, I have overseen employees who have found tasks challenging or even outside of their subject-specific area. I recommended ways in which my colleague could manage his workload – for instance, by micro-managing tasks into smaller segments which he responded well to.
I also offered to put time aside after work to retrain him in order to better understand the inventory checking process. I found this valuable because I would be able to spend time helping my colleague without either of us neglecting our primary duties during working hours. I have found informal consultations invaluable in rectifying team-related issues. I reasoned that, if I could provide training, reassurance or help guide him in the right way, my colleague would be able to better manage his workload in the long-term without relapsing into similar problems in the future.
As my colleague matured into his role, he demonstrated a much more effective ability to complete his duties. When it became apparent that he could benefit from advice, I put time aside to suggest ways that he could more effectively resolve any management related problems in addition to more efficiently completing his work-load.
I was tasked with implementing a training policy designed to help employees mediate disputes in order to increase the efficiency of operations in our firm’s warehouse. Unexpectedly my Manager requested that I compile a report documenting the process and present it stakeholders in two weeks’ time.
This was problematic because of the scale of the task involved. As a “Store Supervisor”, I oversaw up to 27 employees in the day to day running of operations. It was not initially clear how I would be able to implement the policy whilst at the same time, ensuring that productivity was not disrupted as I turned my attention to other responsibilities. I communicated my concern to my manager and was granted a 1-week extension.
Following the two-week period, my manager approached me and asked me to forward the document to him, despite him having granted me an extra week to complete it. I reminded him of the granted extension, but he insisted it would be needed the following day. I remained calm instead of arguing that the initially agreed extension should be forced. I decided to invest time consulting with him about the various options available, which seemed to defuse the situation. I left feeling more optimistic about completing the project at such short-notice and started work on compiling the report.
I found that it was more important to work with my manager than waste precious time insisting on enforcing something which would make no contribution to the fact that the deadline was not going to be changed. In this respect, communication was important; despite my manager reneging on his agreed extension, I tried to find productive ways to benefit from his experiences of the process, setting up a consultation and considering the various options available. I was able to complete the report, while still commanding the respect of my manager having delegated a complicated task to me in a small window. I found it invaluable to be conscious of time-management, and being as efficient as possible when I quickly realised that the deadline was not going to be changed.
Following are some frequently asked questions in Time Management
Your response to this question should clarify to your interviewer how efficiently you evaluate which activities require more attention and focus than the other. When responding, identify a scenario in which you prioritized one role over another without compromising any other obligations you had to fulfill. Use the star method to answer this question.
I build a to-do list for myself every day when I get to work. This list includes the things I need to complete during that day. I organize my list by the degree of priority and deadline so that I can first concentrate on the most important and urgent tasks while remembering all the other tasks on the list to ensure that they are all completed. In my last job, I was promoted to team manager, and my work duties changed to include less background support and more customer interaction. I adapted to the transition by responding to emails first thing each day. I then draw up a list of clients I have to call and answer all their questions when I do call them.
Many workplace projects have tight deadlines that also maintain the quality and standard set by the organization and avoid unnecessary delays. Your ability to beat deadlines reflects on your total time management skills as well as the ability to adapt to new responsibilities. Describe how you manage your assignments, tasks, and deadlines when addressing this question. By adding more detailed information about your project management procedures, you will convince the interviewer that you are well-organized and always deliver projects to time.
It is important to me to meet deadlines, and so I use project management software to keep track of all my projects and their due dates. When new assignments come up, I add them to my software list to include the deadline, which helps me to prioritize tasks that have to be done on my to-do list. I also divide bigger projects into smaller, more manageable tasks so that in the days leading up to the deadline, I can quickly finish them.
This is often a difficult question to answer in an interview because it asks the candidate to talk about failure, which is what most people try to avoid. The interviewer is not only looking at how you failed but, more importantly, about why you failed. Usually, the answer lies in the conditions and the circumstances surrounding such a situation. Should you take full responsibility for not reaching a time limit? Or is it a burden that totally depends on others? Your best strategy is to think about a specific case where you missed a deadline due to unexpected or unplanned circumstances and take full responsibility for the shortcoming and talk about what you have been doing to prevent such a scenario from repeating itself ion the future.
I have both a direct line manager and a dotted line manager in my current position. Recently, due to a vital firefighting request from my dotted line manager, I had my primary project disrupted. While my direct line manager approved of working on this request, it took me off my production schedule for my primary project. I was able to tackle the firefighting issue and still execute on my primary project, but it ended up being more than a week late due to the diversion. I talked to my direct line manager about this, and we decided to set up contingency buffer time in future projects to enable me to move to the dotted line department if and when necessary. I also discussed with my dotted line boss about training another worker in the department so that in these types of circumstances, I would not be the only person to cover.
Following are some frequently asked questions in Conflict Management
To provide an excellent response to this question, assure your interviewer that you are a good listener who can consider alternative viewpoints without getting offended. You may also discuss how a private space can be used for dispute resolution—purpose to provide an example where possible and how you successfully applied your techniques.
In a conflict situation, I consciously readjust my attitude. Which means I try to listen to the perspective of the other person without being aggressive. I always seek to shift the dispute to a private space in order to prevent more complications. This has helped me several times in my formal workplace to prevent little arguments from escalating to bigger ones. And it has proven successful each time for me.
Questions regarding actions demand that you explain how you behave in a real-life scenario. This sort of question is being posed by potential employers to know more about your personality. Previous behavior also shows how you will respond in similar circumstances in the future, so make sure to offer an example you are proud of or clarify the things you have gained from the encounter. Instead of focusing on the dispute itself, it is necessary to highlight the agreement that took place.
I worked on an IT project as a project manager, and one technician was constantly late in completing the tasks. He responded aggressively when I confronted him about it. I stayed calm and acknowledged the deadlines were daunting and asked if I could help him improve his results. He cooled down and told me he was participating in another project where he had to perform tasks that were not in his job description. After a discussion with the other project manager, we came up with a resolution that eased the workload of the technician. The technician provided excellent work for the remainder of the project.
Although interviewers also want to know that prospective candidates are truthful and have clear views, they also want new members of the team to be someone that respects and obeys authority. When addressing this question, it is best to note the following; First, refrain from saying anything degrading about your former manager, as your interviewer/employer is likely to interpret this as an unprofessional behavior. Second, make sure the reaction demonstrates that you respect authority and people in power and as well ready to follow instructions.
In some situations, when I disagreed with a supervisor, I felt it was important to voice my opinion, and it actually proved beneficial. For example, the unfriendly behavior of a former manager had a negative impact on my work, and I began to lose enthusiasm and job satisfaction. Finally, I called for a meeting and told him how I felt in a calm and respectful way. To my surprise and delight, he told me that he was having problems with his personal life and that he could not cope well. He made an effort to be less harsh after that, and I got more understanding.
Following are some frequently asked questions in Problem Solving
Usually, managers ask this question to understand what your problem-solving method is. They’re looking for you to explain a systematic method of problem-solving that involves collecting information, evaluating the information, and making decisions based on what you find.
If I'm faced with a problem, I usually start by studying or looking at examples of how others have solved this problem. After doing this research, I will then determine which approach to solving the problem will work best for the company and me. Then, I decide what steps to take to solve the problem, and I start setting the process in motion while interacting with my managers and co-workers. I’ve discovered that this usually works, and I have been able to solve different problems in my workplace with this method.
This question allows the employer to better understand the method you use to solve a problem, they also want to evaluate how you make an intelligent decision based on the information and details that you have gathered.
If I have a list of advantages and disadvantages to help me make a decision, I start by considering whether the drawbacks would prevent me from achieving my desired result or trigger undue pressure somewhere else. If so, then it is likely the approach will not be successful. If not, I will evaluate if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages in terms of a good outcome. When the pros outweigh the cons, then any adverse consequences are worth enduring and dealing with as they come.
This is a question you might face when you interview for a job that requires you to evaluate statistics and analytics for decision making. To avoid losing concentration, pick two or three metrics you routinely use and consider how these metrics influence your decisions.
As an email marketing consultant, I often use open rates and conversion rates to assess my campaign success. If open email rates are small, I will review the material and make sure it is relevant and meaningful to the reader, or seek to change the subject heading to make it more interesting. If conversion levels are small, I'll look at the email copy again to make sure it's clear and convincing, and review the offer to make sure it's important and valuable to the target audience.