How to Prepare for a Behavioral Job Interview

A style of interviewing that is very popular with employers is known as the behavioral interview method. Behavioral interviewing focuses primarily on asking questions that are related to the job within the scope of a candidate’s experiences, knowledge skills and abilities. The underlying rationale is clear – past experiences and behaviors are predictive of future performance and capabilities. Thus, by asking questions that are framed to have the candidate support their answer through real-life examples, interviewers can glean a more relevant impression of the candidate and how they might perform in the position.

When preparing for any interview, you should think about your previous work and educational experiences and recall specific examples that could provide good insight or help to highlight your skills, knowledge and expertise.

“Coming to an interview prepared is expected of both the hiring manager and the candidate in consideration. Asking and answering the most relevant questions should be different for every position.” Says Sharon Tsao, CMO, Contemporary Staffing Solutions.

About Behavioral Interview Questions

Your past experiences can illustrate more than one of the traits listed above. If you are confident in yourself and your abilities, you should have no problem relating your past experiences to hypothetical situations that you may be asked about.

To help you further prepare, the team at Contemporary Staffing Solutions offers the following information about behavioral interview questions that can help you to provide the most relevant and insightful answers.

  • Many behavioral interview questions will be framed with “Tell me about a time …” or “Give me an example of …”
  • When giving your response, the best way to frame it is using “S-A-R,” which is a convenient mnemonic device to remember “Situation (or Task)-Action-Result (or Outcome).”
  • Situation: Tell the interviewer about the situation that you faced
  • Action: Explain the action(s) that you took to resolve the situation
  • Result: Describe the results of your actions and what you learned or gained
  • Stay positive in your responses and avoid disparaging your previous employer or supervisors.
  • You can also use your response to help illustrate your humility or ability to learn from situations. For example, you may be asked if you faced a situation and your action did not result in the best result. Use your example to show what you learned from that instance and how it helped improve your abilities and knowledge.

Sample Behavioral Interview Questions:

  1. Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
  2. Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
  3. Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  4. Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
  5. Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone’s opinion.
  6. Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
  7. Please discuss an important written document you were required to complete.
  8. Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  9. Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
  10. Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision.
  11. What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
  12. Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).
  13. Tell me about a difficult decision you’ve made in the last year.
  14. Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish and failed.
  15. Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.
  16. Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
  17. Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.
  18. Tell me about a time when you delegated a project effectively.
  19. Give me an example of a time when you used your fact-finding skills to solve a problem.
  20. Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem.
  21. Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
  22. Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision.
  23. Describe a time when you set your sights too high (or too low).