Behavioral Interview Questions:

Behavioral Interview Questions

Preparing to answer behavioral interview questions doesn’t have to be difficult. This document will provide some ‘before” and “during” considerations as well as actual behavioral interview questions that will help you prepare. 

Why is spending some time preparing to answer behavioral interview questions important? Because candidates who prepare for behavioral interviews are better prepared for all types of interviews. This preparation will enable you to dig into details and share real-life experiences, and every interviewer, hiring manager, and recruiter wants to hear the details. 

A Quick Overview of Behavioral Interviewing

For those of you new to interviewing, a behavioral interview focuses on real examples from your previous experiences. The idea is that the best way to predict your future performance is to better understand how you have handled similar situations in previous circumstances. 

Many recommend you use the STAR acronym when remembering how to structure responses to behavioral questions. Using the STAR method is good advice…but there is a lot of advice available on this topic. I did a quick Google search and found over 144 MILLION articles to help you prepare to answer behavioral interviewing questions. 

Jeepers folks, it isn’t that complicated. 

There are two simple rules of behavioral interviewing and we cover those in detail in another article (so be sure to check that out). To enhance, instead of duplicate, that article’s content, this post will focus on a few additional tips that will take your interview performance to the next level. 

Before the interview:

One way to prepare for the interview is to evaluate the job description. A traditional interview will only focus on your ‘hard skills’. Meaning, how many years of experience you have in each competency. However, how many years you have performed a task doesn’t necessarily translate into how good you are at performing the task. So while being prepared to discuss your hard skills is important, behavioral interview questions will be focused on your soft skills.  

Once you have a greater understanding of the soft skills the company is looking for, you can begin to reflect upon experiences where you have proficiently displayed these skills. For example, does the organization say they need team players? Someone with a strong attention to detail? Individuals who exhibit critical thinking and/or problem-solving skills? Someone who demonstrates superior customer service? 

As a side note: if you don’t have a job description, think about the skills that might be necessary for the job or speak to a recruiter who is familiar with the company’s culture.

When answering the questions:

Don’t be afraid to share failures.

One of the two simple rules of behavioral interviewing is to keep things positive. But being positive doesn’t mean that you avoid real conversations. Said differently, do not make the mistake of thinking you should avoid discussing failures during an interview. 

The reverse is true. You should be prepared to provide examples of when results didn’t turn out as you planned. 

Why? Because every manager wants to work with professionals who hold themselves accountable. When composing a response to these types of questions, think about your action or reaction to the situation. How did you handle it? Who did you communicate with? What did you learn? Did you change any of your personal processes to mitigate similar outcomes in the future?

Catalog some recent achievements.

The interview is a perfect time to discuss past achievements, so sit down and write out some recent accomplishments. But be careful…this isn’t about bragging. This exercise is about using these successes to demonstrate you have the soft skills the hiring team is looking for. 

For example, if the job description states they are looking for a team player, describe where you volunteered to pick up extra SIVs in order to help the team meet a very aggressive project target. If they are looking for someone with excellent problem-solving skills, be prepared to discuss how you handled a tough situation at a site. Perhaps you were recently promoted into a leadership role; use that accomplishment to highlight how you embraced the challenge of training/mentoring new team members, improved the company’s onboarding process, served on committees to enhance tracking and communicating project status, etc. 

Examples of Behavioral Interview Questions…

…and some guidance regarding answers. And as you assess each of these questions, don’t forget to also consider potential follow-up questions such as: What did you do? What was your thought process? What was the outcome? What do you wish you had done differently?


Being adaptable means you can adjust to new situations. And in the CRA Role, being flexible is extremely important. When thinking about potential responses, keep in mind that future managers are looking for someone who will be helpful during times of change. They are also looking for individuals who can adapt to different personalities to foster a collaborative work environment. Oh, and in the CRA Role, managers are looking for folks who will volunteer for last-minute visits or to pick up a newly added site (or co-monitor with an overwhelmed team member).  

Some questions to consider:

  • We are thinking of changing our EDC (or CTMS or other) system. How would you help the team adjust to a new system? 
  • What type of challenges do you feel you may experience if you join our team? 
  • Tell me about a time when someone asked you to do something outside of your immediate role or expertise.  
  • Give me a specific example of a situation when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
  • Describe an instance when you put your needs aside to help a co-worker understand a task. How did you assist him/her? 

Analytical Skills/Problem-Solving

Without a doubt, great CRAs possess critical thinking skills. After all, terrific CRAs solve problems on a daily basis so being able to exhibit how you analyze and solve problems is super important. When you are composing responses to the below sample questions, remember that your interviewer is assessing your overall thought processes. Meaning, that she wants to hear the logic behind the solution – your logic. She also wants to understand how you make decisions as well as assess how you communicate during these tough situations.  

Some questions to consider:

  • Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem. 
  • When you have identified two or three options for a solution, how do you go about selecting one? 
  • Describe a circumstance when you missed an obvious solution to a problem.


Showing strong communication skills goes well beyond exhibiting great language skills. I should note that every interview question will highlight your communication skills…and those are more than just your verbal capabilities. Do you make eye contact? Is your body language open or closed? Is your tone and demeanor positive or negative? 

How you engage with others will impact team morale and productivity. Therefore, when answering questions related to communications, be sure to assess the other party’s role as well as the desired outcome.  

Some questions to consider:

  • What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
  • Describe a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person who didn’t like you (or vice versa). 
  • Why do you believe you are a good fit for this team (or company or position)?


I love hiring creative thinkers. While creative people are typically strong problem solvers, they also create things from nothing. They are tremendous assets in a dynamic culture because creative people generate new ideas and approaches.  

When you are preparing for these behavioral interview questions, consider where you have driven continual improvement initiatives in the past. Maybe assess where you have helped restructure a process or a team in order to make things more fun, efficient, or effective.

Some questions to consider:

  • Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone’s opinion.
  • Provide the details of a problem that you’ve solved uniquely or unusually. 
  • Explain a situation where you took an existing idea (or process) and improved upon it. 

Decision Making

All jobs require some level of decision-making skills. While managers should be highly efficient in this space, CRAs and other team members have to constantly make work-related decisions. These questions are intended to show your interviewer your methodology for making decisions. 

Some questions to consider:

  • Tell me about a difficult decision you have made in the last year.
  • What was the best decision you have made this past year? 
  • Describe a situation where you have had to overcome a problem or obstacle in order to move forward with something. 
  • Relate a circumstance when you had to make a decision without all the information you needed. 

Goal Setting

People do not face-plant into success. Successful individuals set goals and work towards the achievement of those intentions. You hear me talk about trying to understand candidates’ career objectives all the time. Why? Because there is a methodology for successful goal setting and how good you are at this methodology directly impacts the level of success you will obtain. 

This is an important interview topic because hiring managers want to assess the strategy you employ when setting goals or achieving targets. Your interviewer will also be evaluating your ability to set actionable plans in order to obtain the objectives you have either personally set or have been given by the project team. 

Some questions to consider:

  • Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it. 
  • What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far and why?
  • Tell me about a goal that you set that you did not reach. 


Team members who show initiative do things without being told. I love that because even though I have been in management for over three decades, I despise having to give basic work direction to others.  Individuals with initiative figure out what they need to know, and what needs to be done. And then – they just go do it.  

Also, folks with this soft skill don’t give up when things get tough. They take advantage of opportunities and they seem to always go ‘above and beyond’.  Can you tell this is one of my favorite soft skills? I am not alone, so be sure to show your interviewer how you are proactive, not reactive by preparing for the following questions.  

Some questions to consider:

  • Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
  • Tell me about a circumstance when you took on extra responsibility without being asked to do so.
  • What is the first step you take when you are given a task or project with little or no direction? 
  • Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead (in a project, to solve a problem, etc).


Warren Buffet nailed this topic when he quoted: 

Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. Think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without integrity, you really want them to be dumb and lazy. 

Our industry is overrun with fraudulent candidates, so showing you are an honest person is extremely important. Consider the following questions when preparing to demonstrate this soft skill. 

Some questions to consider:

  • Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision.
  • When was the last time you ‘broke the rules’? 
  • Describe a situation where you witnessed another team member do something you thought was inappropriate. 
  • Give a specific example of a policy you did not agree with but conformed to anyway. 


Every hiring manager will assess leadership skills during an interview…regardless of the role. Why? Because companies want to onboard team members who can motivate others.

Managers are not necessarily leaders and leaders are not necessarily managers. 

And let’s be honest, we can do without management. But an effective organization can never do without true leadership.  Effective leaders have vision and they guide change. They have a servant’s heart and offer support while also offering structure, direction, and guidance.  No matter what role you are interviewing for, be prepared to highlight your leadership skills. 

Some questions to consider:

  • Give me an example of a time when you have motivated others.
  • Relate a situation when you delegated a project effectively.
  • Tell me about a time when you had a team member not carrying their full workload or not meeting their commitments.
  • Describe a situation where you handled conflict on a team.
  • Tell me about a team project when you had to take the lead or take charge of the project. 

Planning and Organization/Time Management

Every company wants to hire folks who have strong time management and organizational skills because every manager wants to know if you can effectively manage your time. Likewise, your future manager will want to know your approach to breaking down large projects into bite-sized chunks in order to meet deadlines and milestones.  

But just because time management skills are likely to be the most sought-after, don’t pretend that you have never missed a deadline or had to ask for an extension. The exhibition of time management and organizational skills also includes prioritization (as well as reprioritization) of tasks. And, how you communicate when things look to be off track. 

Some questions to consider:

  • Tell me about a time when you missed a deadline. 
  • How do you determine priorities in scheduling your time? Give examples.
  • Describe a time when you had many projects or assignments due at the same time. What steps did you take to get them all done?
  • Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.


While the Clinical Research Associate role is very independent, teamwork skills are still extremely important. When answering behavioral interview questions like those below, think of when you have collaborated with others to solve a problem or contributed to a project to meet a deadline. 

Some questions to consider:

  • How would you onboard a new team member? 
  • Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a team member who wasn’t performing. How did you address it?
  • Describe a situation where you have had to work as part of a team to achieve a result. What was your role and what was the outcome?
  • Relay a circumstance where other team members disagreed with your ideas or approach. What did you do?

Preparing for Behavioral Interview Questions isn’t Difficult…

…but it does take time. Invest in yourself by spending the time to properly prepare. And if you have questions, contact us.