Interviewing Job Searching

Proven Tips to Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions

Faith Boluwatife

Freelance Blogger & HR Specialist


Employers take risks with every new employee they take on board. Hence, it is not surprising that they tailor interviews to help them spot the best choices amongst the candidates that apply. Behavioral interviews are an important tool used in this process. In a behavioral interview, you are asked what we call “behavioral interview questions” that require you to explain a past scenario that highlights your skills and suitability for the position.

Why are Behavioral Interviews Necessary?

Behavioral interview questions require you, as a candidate, to give information about an experience that required you to put to use certain skills that will be required for the job you are applying for. This is a screening technique used by employers to cut down the large number of entries received. Unlike straightforward “yes/no” questions, you are expected to come up with a classic, structured narrative that spells out what the scenario required of you and how you delivered. 

Using behavioral interview questions as a technique seeks expound on certain personality traits and skills that you have listed on your resume. Therefore, the behavioral questions asked can usually fall under different job competencies including teamwork, problem-solving, and time management.

Common Behavioral Interview Questions

A behavioral-based interview provides a more effective and vivid picture of your abilities. Hence, you must be prepared for the different possible behavioral interview questions to be asked. A good answer for any question will usually involve a summary of what skills were utilized in the scenario given, how the skills were utilized, and what the results were. Though there are many different behavioral interview questions and answers, they typically tend to fall into six different categories.

Time Management Skills

Time management behavioral interview questions

There is hardly a job that does not require you to have healthy time management skills in order to complete tasks for the progression of an organization’s goals. Here, employers want to see if candidates can handle multiple tasks at a time, how well you can plan and rank activities in order of priority, and how well you can work within fixed time frames. Your answer to this type of behavioral interview question should include the mention of a task that challenged your time management and organizational skills and how you dealt with it. Some examples of time-management behavioral interview questions are:

  • Tell me about a time you carried out a task given you, in a shorter time than allocated.
  • Tell me about the last time you had multiple projects to handle. How did it turn out?
  • Give me a summary of your approach to a major project you handled within a short time frame.

Problem Solving Skills

One major attractive skill that employers look for in potential employees is the ability to solve the hardest problems. Hence, you should not be shocked if you are required to give an account of a difficult situation that you found yourself in and how you handled it. You must be careful to keep these accounts about work-related activities, making sure to emphasize skills that are most relevant to the position you are applying for.

The employers know that you are human and are liable to make mistakes, so they do not expect every scenario to be one you triumphed. If the account you will be giving is one where the outcome was not as good as you expected, remember to point out what you learned from your approach. Some problem-solving behavioral interview questions that will help prove your ability to handle technical situations include:

  • Have you ever gotten into a difficult situation while discharging your responsibilities? Tell me about it.
  • Tell me about when you failed to achieve a given task at work/life goal.
  • Give an account of a time when the situation did not go as planned/expected. How did you handle it?

Teamwork

An organization functions because every unit involved is doing what they are required to do. This principle also applies at lower levels. You will be required to work in a team at some point or the other, either taking up a leadership role or handling smaller tasks. Employers want to know that the concept of working together with other people that possess different personalities and experiences than you is not an alien concept.

Teamwork behavioral interview questions

A team player is an asset to the organization, especially when they can work together with others to complete tasks. When answering these types of behavioral interview questions, you need to present yourself as an active team player who pays attention to every member of their team. You may be asked questions like:

  • How have you handled working in a team with people with different personalities and experiences than you in the past? Give an example.
  • Have you had to lead a team before? Tell me about it.
  • How does a disagreement with a colleague affect your relationship with them and work at large? Tell me one of your experiences.

Example Answer for explaining disagreements with colleagues: Behavioral Interview Questions: Dealing with Conflict

Adaptability

A behavioral-based interview will also test your ability to adapt to changing conditions. Employers want to find out about your experience settling into a new job or your methods for handling operational modifications in your workplace. For instance, should it be that a member of staff has a child, an accident, or dies suddenly. This can affect the way things are run. Your ability to be proactive and stay focused on getting things done in line with the organization’s purpose will cause you to shine as a suitable candidate for the job.

These behavioral interview questions will unearth the value you will be to the company in such a situation, hence you must bring your special skills such as fast learning and the ability to work under pressure to the fore. Some behavioral interview questions centered around adaptability include:

  • Have you had to learn on the job before? Tell me about it.
  • Tell me about how you were able to adapt to a major company policy change.
  • Tell me about a time when you had a lot to do in a very short time.

Communication Skills

A healthy working environment is one where information and other conditions necessary for everyone to do their work are available readily. Hence, every staff member must be able to communicate with one another effectively. Employers want to know that you can listen, and communicate ideas as clearly as possible. They also need to know that you can ask the right questions as needed to understand the extent of what is required of you.

Communication scenarios

In product and service-oriented industries you may be required to interact directly with customers. Being able to elaborate on past experiences that show how you handled situations where you had to be communicative will be necessary. These situational interview questions seek to establish that you will uphold the organization’s values in such instances. Common behavioral interview questions that you can expect to be asked to test you in this area include:

  • Have you ever had to persuade someone on a concept or idea? Tell me about it.
  • Tell me about an experience with a problematic client.
  • Tell me about how you built a relationship with a colleague with a different personality than yours.

Motivation and Commitment to Organizational Values

Employees who can stay focused and consistently provide quality services can help a company achieve its goals. As a result, employers want to expose how you stay motivated and focused on the company’s ideals. When your drive and passion for your career goals fuel characteristics and skills that help the company, you strike your interviewer as a good fit for the job and company. Being able to handle the tasks associated with the position might not be enough sometimes. As a new addition to the company, the ability to constantly stay motivated and committed to the values of the organization makes work easier and enjoyable for everyone. Some questions that you can expect to be asked are:

  • How do you handle jobs that are characterized by routine tasks?
  • What would you say is your greatest achievement?
  • Have you ever made a suggestion that helped the company towards achieving one of its goals? Tell me about it.

How to Handle a Behavioral Interview

Considering the increase in the need for humans to show value by providing skills and competencies that machines cannot provide, interviewers must ask behavioral interview questions. There are many ways to approach these questions. However, the best way to answer them is to ensure that the answers you give highlight your skill. Here are a few tips to apply to establish your competency through.

1. Practice

There is no limit to the form these behavioral interview questions can take. However, you can prepare yourself to answer appropriately by going through practice questions that have been listed above. You may also draw out questions based on the skills that the job requires. As has been stated, these questions are not asked just for you to tell the interviewer a story, but to bring out past applications of the skills you have. 

It is expected that if you were able to act in a certain way in the past, you will be able to do so again in the future. Hence, the more questions practice and the more past events you can recall, the less likely it is that you will be shocked by your interviewer. 

2. Use the STAR technique

This STAR acronym stands for situation, task, action, and result. This is a method that gives direction and potency to your answers. The situation spells out the attendant conditions in the scenario that you are explaining. Next, you bring forward the tasks that were required of you in this “situation”. Then you talk about the actions you took as needed. Finally, you need to give an overview of how your actions affected the situation- the result. This might seem like an easy technique to use. However, practice will help you apply it more efficiently.

For example, in a situation where a client barges into the office with a complaint about a service offering. Such a situation would require you to get to the root of the matter while you preserve the company’s relationship with them. An action that irritates the client can cause them to start yelling or leave a bad review, so you must be careful.  Note that the outcome of your action can be negative or positive. When negative, dwell on the positive things about the situation and the lessons that you learned. 

3. Take your time

The worst thing that can happen while being interviewed is for you to say something that you would want to take back – probably something that paints you in a bad light. Hence, you need to take your time to process the questions asked. Since there might be a myriad of possible scenarios that fit the behavioral interview questions asked, you want to choose one that points out your strengths. The interviewers will understand if you need a few seconds or a sip of water. Carefully go over the details of the event, and arrange your response in the STAR format before you start to respond.

Conclusion

For any interview, whether it be in person or on video, you will have to answer behavioral interview questions. These questions work to confirm your resume and prove your competency. Though there are hundreds of different types of behavioral interview questions, they can all be categorized into 6 different types. Each type can be answered similarly and efficiently with a little practice, technique, and composure. So ease your nerves, prepare yourself, and go ace your interview.

Happy Job Searching.