Top 10 Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers

How to Use the STAR Technique When Interviewing

Manager interviewing job candidate
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During a job interview, it is likely that you will be asked behavioral interview questions. What are they and how are they different from traditional job interview questions where you describe what you did or the qualifications you have? 

What are Behavioral Job Interview Questions?

Behavioral job interview techniques are very commonly employed by all types of companies. The types of questions you will likely be asked will be seeking concrete examples of skills and experiences that relate directly to the position.

The interviewer will ask how you would handle a situation, and you will need to respond with an explanation of what you did. The logic is that your success in the past is a positive indicator of your success in the future. 

Top 10 Behavioral Interview Questions and Sample Answers

Here are the top ten behavioral interview questions you may be asked during a job interview. Review the responses, and consider how you would answer the question. You don't need to memorize answers, but know what experiences you would share and how you would describe them to the interviewer.

1. Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.
I had been working on a key project that was scheduled for delivery to the client in 60 days. My supervisor came to me and said that we needed to speed it up and be ready in 45 days, while keeping our other projects on time. I made it into a challenge for my staff, and we effectively added just a few hours to each of our schedules and got the job done in 42 days by sharing the workload.

Of course, I had a great group of people to work with, but I think that my effective allocation of tasks was a major component of the success of the project.

More Answers: How do you handle stress?

2. How do you handle a challenge? Give an example.
One time, my supervisor needed to leave town unexpectedly, and we were in the middle of a touchy negotiation with a new sponsor.

I was tasked with putting together a PowerPoint presentation just from the notes he had left, and some briefing from his manager. My presentation turned out successfully- we got the sponsorship, and the management team recommended me for an award.  

More Answers: Tell me about how you handled a challenging situation.

3. Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it? 
Once I misquoted the fees for a particular type of membership to the club where I worked. I explained my mistake to my supervisor, who appreciated my coming to him, and my honesty. He told me to offer to waive the application fee for the new member. The member joined the club despite my mistake, my supervisor was understanding, and although I felt bad that I had made a mistake, I learned to pay close attention to the details so as to give accurate information in the future.

Tips for Responding: How to answer interview questions about mistakes.

4. Give an example of how you set goals. 
Within a few weeks of beginning my first job as a sales associate in a department store, I knew that I wanted to be in the fashion industry. I decided that I would work my way up to department manager, and at that point I would have enough money saved to be able to attend design school full-time.

I did just that, and I even landed my first job through an internship I completed the summer before graduation.

5. Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it. 
When I started working for XYZ Company, I wanted to achieve the Employee of the Month title. It was a motivational challenge, and not all the employees took it that seriously, but I really wanted that parking spot, and my picture on the wall. I went out of my way to be helpful to my colleagues, supervisors, and customers - which I would have done anyway, I liked the job and the people I worked with. The third month I was there, I got the honor.

It was good to achieve my goal, and I actually ended up moving into a managerial position there pretty quickly, I think because of my positive attitude and perseverance.

More Answers: Interview questions about achieving your goals.

6. Describe a decision you made that wasn't popular and how you handled implementing it.
Once, I inherited a group of employees when their supervisor relocated to another city. They had been allowed to cover each other’s shifts without management approval. I didn’t like the inconsistencies, where certain people were being given more opportunities than others. I introduced a policy where I had my assistant approve all staffing changes, to make sure that everyone who wanted extra hours and was available at certain times could be utilized.

More Answers: What are the most difficult decisions to make?

7. Give an example of how you worked on a team.
During my last semester in college, I worked as part of a research team in the History department. The professor leading the project was writing a book on the development of language in Europe in the Middle Ages. We were each assigned different sectors to focus on, and I suggested that we meet independently before our weekly meeting with the professor to discuss our progress, and help each other out if we were having any difficulties. The professor really appreciated the way we worked together, and it helped to streamline his research as well. He was ready to start on his final copy months ahead of schedule because of the work we helped him with.

Tips for Responding: How to answer interview questions about teamwork.

8. What do you do if you disagree with someone at work?
A few years ago, I had a supervisor who wanted me to find ways to outsource most of the work we were doing in my department. I felt that my department was one where having the staff on premises had a huge impact on our effectiveness and ability to relate to our clients. I presented a strong case to her, and she came up with a compromise plan.

Tips for Responding: How to answer interview questions about problems at work.

9. Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers.
I was in a situation once where the management of our department was taken over by employees with experience in a totally different industry, in an effort to maximize profits over service. Many of my co-workers were resistant to the sweeping changes that were being made, but I recognized some of the benefits right off the bat, and was able to motivate my colleagues to give the new process a chance to succeed.  

More Answers: What strategies would you use to motivate your team?

10. Have you handled a difficult situation? How?
When I worked at ABC Global, it came to my attention that one of my employees had become addicted to painkillers prescribed after she had surgery. Her performance was being negatively impacted, and she needed to get some help. I spoke with her privately, and I helped her to arrange a weekend treatment program that was covered by her insurance. Fortunately, she was able to get her life back on track, and she received a promotion about six months later.

Share Real Examples

Interviewers develop questions to determine how successful a candidate will be, given the specific tasks of the job. Questions are generally formatted by presenting a situation, inquiring about what action you have taken to respond to something similar in the past, and what the result was.

Obviously, you want to present your experiences as clearly as you can, using real examples, and highlighting situations where you were successful. Using the STAR interview technique can help you to give well thought out and complete answers.

How to Prepare 

To help you prepare for a behavioral interview, review the job requirements, and make a list of the behavioral skills that you have that closely match them. Then write down examples of when you applied those skills during a work, school, or volunteer situation. Here's how to match your qualifications to the job.

More About Behavioral Job Interviews
Here's more information on behavioral job interviews, including behavioral job interview questions, how to prepare for a behavioral interview, and techniques and strategies for acing a behavioral job interview.

Suggested Reading: List of Behavioral Skills | STAR Interview Technique | Job Interview Questions and Answers | Top 10 Job Interview Tips