Behavioral Interviewing

BEHAVIORAL INTERVIEW QUESTION DATABASE

Behavioral  interview questions are being used more frequently in the screening of job  applicants.  Behavioral questions force the interviewees to answer the question in a structured manner, which is good news for anyone conducting job interviews.

Unfortunately, responding in this way does not come naturally for many of us.  This behavioral interview question database can help you to understand, and prepare your answers to, the different types of questions you might be asked during this type of interview.

Traditional versus Behavioral Interview Questions

If you’ve ever been on a job interview, then you’ve probably been asked
traditional interview questions.  In fact, even during a behavioral interview you can expect to be asked some of the more traditional questions such as:

What do you know about our company?

Why are you thinking about leaving your job?

If  you’re interested in seeing more of these types of questions, then we have a
complete traditional interview question database with about 100 examples.

During a behavioral interview, however, the job candidate is expected to answer
questions using a prescribed format – such as the STAR technique.  The term STAR is an acronym that helps everyone to remember how to structure his or her answers:

  • Situation/ Task – the interviewees should always start their “story” by explaining the situation they were in, or the task they were trying to meet.
  • Action– the next part of the story should explain the action that was taken.
    The interview team or interviewer is expecting to hear the specific action that the job candidate took.
  • Result– finally, it’s important to explain the outcome or results that were achieved.

Generally, job candidates do a good job of describing the situation they were facing.  But the story’s strength usually fades as it progresses.  This is unfortunate since
the interview team is most interested in the behaviors or actions the candidate
took and the outcome, or results, of all this effort.

This is one of the reasons it’s so important to prepare for a job interview,
especially a behavioral interview.  The interview team, or hiring manager, will usually be scoring the candidate in each component of the STAR.  Interviewees often do themselves a disservice by not covering each of these components adequately.

Database Question Structure

In order to practice behavioral interviewing, it’s important to understand the various types of questions that might be asked. Even the structure of the question is somewhat unique to this interviewing technique.  That’s why this behavioral interviewing database is so helpful.

This database is constructed of questions only; you will not find answers here.
We’ve already addressed how to structure responses to behavioral questions
in our article entitled Behavioral Interviewing Technique.  You can use this database to help you develop a list of “stories,” and practicing using the behavioral format for
your responses.

Don’t be overwhelmed because we’ve outlined over sixty behavioral questions in this database.  Many of these questions will elicit a similar response, so you don’t need to have sixty stories ready and practiced.  To help you out, we’ve grouped the questions
into eight common categories.  This list will also help you to mentally run through your valuable work experiences, and aid you in the recall of your major accomplishments and challenges.

Behavioral Interview Questions about
Business Knowledge and Judgment Skills

  • Tell me about a time when you were faced with a problem that required logic and good judgment to solve.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to analyze a lot of information before making a decision.
  • Tell me about a time when you identified a problem before it got out of control.
  • Describe for me a time when you had to make a fast decision.
  • Tell me about a time when you found yourself getting bogged down in the details.
  • Tell me about a time when you used your business knowledge to improve productivity.

 

Behavioral Interview Questions about Communications Skills

  • Describe a situation in which you can use your persuasion skills to successfully convince someone to adopt your idea.
  • Give me an example of a time where you used your presentation skills to try to influence someone’s opinion.
  • Tell me about the most important written document that you ever completed.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to communicate an idea in writing.
  • Tell me about a time when you were able to successfully communicate an idea to someone who may not have liked you personally.

 

Behavioral Interview Questions about Fostering Change

  • Give me an example of a time when you had to persuade people to do something they really didn’t want to do.
  • Describe for me the most creative idea you’ve ever developed.
  • Describe for me the most creative solution you’ve ever developed.
  • Describe for me the most unique solution you’ve ever developed to a problem.
  • Describe for me the most significant change you’ve ever been asked to carry out.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to challenge the status quo.

Behavioral Interview Questions about Valuing Diversity

  • Tell me about a time when you had to abide by a policy that you did not personally agree with.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with conflict at work.
  • Tell me about a time when you were placed on a team and either you or someone on that team didn’t see eye-to-eye.
  • Describe for me the most difficult person you’ve ever had to deal with at work.
  • Describe for me a time when you needed to work cooperatively with someone who did not share the same ideas as you.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to make an adjustment to your personal style to successfully work with a coworker.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to adjust to a situation over which you had no control.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to be tolerant of a coworker’s ideas.

Behavioral Interview Questions about Leadership Skills

  • Give me an example of a time when you took the initiative to lead a project.
  • Tell me about a time when you used your motivational skills.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to delegate a task or project to someone else.
  • Tell me about a time when you used your team building skills.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to fire someone you liked.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to rely on a team to complete a project.
  • Tell me about a time when you were displaying your true leadership style.
  • Tell me about a time when you took the initiative to get something done without being asked.
  • Describe for me what you did when faced with a coworker that wasn’t pulling his or her fair share of the load.
  • Tell me about a time when you rewarded someone in recognition for their contribution to the company.
  • Tell me about a time when you were leading a group that was not getting along with one another.
  • Tell me about a time when you were placed in a leadership role and you were met with resistance.

 

Behavioral Interview Questions about Lifelong Learning

  • Tell me about a time when you were under a great deal of stress and you had to use your coping skills.
  • Tell me about a time when you were under pressure.
  • Describe for me the largest obstacle that you’ve ever faced.
  • Describe for me the most difficult ethical situation you’ve ever faced.
  • Give me an example of a time when you experienced a personal loss after doing what you believed was the right thing to do.
  • Tell me about a time when you were underachieving.
  • Tell me about a time when you weren’t able to complete a project on time.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an irate customer.

Behavioral Interview Questions about Achieving Results and Goals

  • Give me an example of a stretch goal you set for yourself and how you were able to do it.
  • Give me an example of a time where you had to go above and beyond the call of duty to meet a goal.
  • Tell me about a time when you failed to carry out a goal.
  • Tell me about a time when you set a goal or target too high or too low.
  • Describe for me the accomplishment that has given you the most satisfaction.
  • Tell me about the most important goal you’ve ever set for yourself and how you achieved it.
  • Tell me about the most important goal you’ve never reached.

Behavioral Interview Questions about Decision Making / Problem Solving Skills

  • Tell me about a time when you used your analytical skills to solve a problem.
  • Tell me about a time when you had seemingly too many deadlines approaching at the same time and you needed to prioritize your work.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision and there wasn’t enough time to gather all the information you needed to make a good decision.
  • Tell me the most difficult decision you’ve made in the last 12 months.
  • Tell me about a time when you didn’t see an obvious answer to a difficult question.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to expect potential problems and develop preventive measures ahead of time.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make an unpopular decision.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a quick decision and not all the processes were in place.
  • Tell me about a time when you made a recommendation that involved a lot of risk.

Others

 

Communication

  • Give me a specific example of a time when a co-worker criticized your work in front of others. How did you respond? How has that event shaped the way you communicate with others?
  • How do you make sure that someone understands what you are saying?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to present complex information.
  • Tell me about a time in which you had to use your written communication skills to get across an important point.

Decision Making

  • Give me an example of a time you had to make a difficult decision.
  • Describe a specific problem you solved for your employer. How did you approach the problem?  What role did others play? What was the outcome?
  • Give me an example of when taking your time to make a decision paid off.

Initiative

  • What did you do to prepare for this interview?
  • Give me an example of a situation that could not have happened successfully without you being there.

 

Planning and Organization

  • Describe a situation when you had many projects due at the same time. What steps did you take to get them all done?
  • How do you determine priorities in scheduling your time? Give me an example.

Flexibility

  • Describe a time where you were faced with problems or stresses that tested your coping skills.
  • Describe a time when you put your needs aside to help a co-worker understand a task. How did you help them? What was the result?

 

Leadership

  • Tell me about a time when you influenced the outcome of a project by taking a leadership role.
  • Give me an example of when you involved others in making a decision.

 

Time Management

  • Tell me about a time when you failed to meet a deadline. What things did you fail to do? What were the repercussions? What did you learn?
  • Tell me about a time when you were particularly effective on prioritizing tasks and completing a project on schedule.

Illegal Interview Questions

Though most employers do not intentionally ask illegal questions intentionally, it is
important to not only know what these questions are but how to handle answering
them should they arise.  The following are sample illegal interview questions:

  • Are you a US citizen?
  • Where were you/your parents born?
  • What is your native language?
  • How old are you?
  • What’s your birth date?
  • What’s your marital status?
  • Who do you live with?
  • Do you plan on starting a family?
  • How many kids do you have?
  • How tall are you?
  • How much do you weigh?
  • Do you have any disabilities?
  • How’s your families health?
  • Have you ever been arrested?

Handling
these questions can be difficult. Legally, you are not obligated to answer any
of the questions listed above. However, if you feel comfortable answering an
illegal interview question, should it arise, you should not hesitate to answer
the question. If you do feel uncomfortable answering such a question simply
tell the interviewer that you do not feel comfortable answering that question.

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