If you’re heading into a job interview, chances are you’ve practiced your elevator pitch, figured out how working for the company aligns with your goals, and have a good sense of how your skills and background would be a good fit for the role. That’s a great start! But practicing a variety of behavioral interview questions helps you not only prepare answers to those exact questions but also gets you more comfortable answering this open-ended type of query.What are behavioral interview questions?
Behavioral interview questions generally require you to tell an anecdote as part of the answer. Therefore, it’s important to be able to tell a cohesive story while highlighting the skills and decision-making thought process you used.
The STAR method is one tactic for answering this type of question. We explained that in more detail in this post. Once you have a good understanding of the method, try your hand at answering a number of the below questions (some of the trickier ones have guidance in italics) and you’ll likely feel better prepared than ever before.Six categories of behavioral interview questions
For the purpose of this article, we’ll break down the behavioral interview question examples into six categories:
This question is an opportunity to both impress your interviewer by explaining a high-impact presentation you gave, as well as to demonstrate how your communication skills shaped others’ decisions. Choose a presentation that changed someone’s opinion, and be sure to include this outcome as a reason you’re proud of it.
The purpose of this question is to uncover whether you can identify when an issue arises due to communication style vs. a deeper underlying problem. To answer it effectively, give an example with a clear turning point in your approach and a positive outcome that resulted from it.
This can be a slippery slope, as you’ll want to pick an instance that doesn’t paint you as overbearing but does highlight empathy toward others. Spend as much time explaining your reasoning behind stepping in as you do the outcome. Be sure to explain how your actions impacted your relationship with the colleague in question.
In addition to demonstrating your work ethic, this question is a chance to speak to your time management skills. Include any tactics you used to ensure you were able to deliver on your normal job requirements while also going above and beyond.
While a high school job isn’t necessarily indicative of skilled work experience, your interviewer could be asking this to test your work ethic. It doesn’t matter if you were serving ice cream or working in investment banking. The important part of your answer is the explanation of why you took the job and what you learned from it.Time management
Virtually every employee has multiple projects to manage at any given time. This question isn’t so much about the projects themselves, but rather how you handle competing priorities.
This is an additional chance to highlight any times you’ve gone beyond the call of duty at work. Choose a time when you not only doubled down on your assigned work but also thought outside the box about effective ways to spend your time.Adaptability and response to uncertainty
Try to choose an instance where you actually recalibrated, rather than continuing to push toward the same goal. The purpose of this question is to probe you for adaptability—particularly when you’ve already put in a significant amount of effort.
While the question sounds a bit like a chance to brag, the interviewer likely doesn’t care so much about the achievement itself, but rather what sort of achievement makes you proud—getting at the underlying question of what motivates you to do well. Choose an achievement that allows you to speak to not only the outcome but also why you’re proud of it.
There isn’t necessarily a right answer to this question, as what the interviewer is looking for likely depends to an extent on the company culture. Be honest about your preferences—it’ll help you to evaluate whether the company is even the right fit for you.
As you become more comfortable with the types of behavioral questions commonly asked in interviews, take time to reflect on your personal and professional experience. Use challenges and moments of insight or growth to provide answers to these questions.
Practice with a friend or even in the mirror until it feels natural. Avoid scripts, but feel free to sketch out notes in the various categories of relevant events or details. You may want to have specific details or statistics handy, for example.
Want to break down the behavioral interview even further? See what SheCanCode recommends you do before, during, and after the interview in our latest comprehensive guide.
Revised Nov. 15, 2021
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