More employers are using behavioral interviewing in the hiring process. This type of interview is based on the idea that the best way to predict your future performance is to examine your past and present performance in a similar situation. It focuses on experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities which are job related.

With the Behavioral Interview, Employers predetermine which skills are necessary for the position and then ask very pointed questions to determine if the candidate possesses those skills or has the needed experiences.

Currently, 30% of all organizations are using behavioral interviewing to some degree.

Why should you prepare for a behavioral interview?

  • Candidates who prepare for behavioral interviews are better prepared – even for traditional interviews.
  • Using behavioral style answers works well with inexperienced interviewers.
  • Companies who invest the time and energy in developing behavioral interviews often attract top candidates, and of course, top candidates make the company a more desirable place to work.

Before the interview:

  • One way to prepare for the interview is to first consider the job description.  What skills are listed as qualifications for the job? For example, does the organization say they need team players? Someone with a strong attention to detail? Keen problem solvers? Someone with superior customer service?
  • Once you have a greater understanding of the kinds of skills the company is seeking, you can begin to reflect upon experiences where you have demonstrated these skills.
  • If you don’t have a job description, think about the skills that might be necessary for the job or speak to an advisor in career services.

During the Interview, when answering the questions:

  • First, internally note what competency or skill the employer may be seeking (hint: it may be more than one) and then always make sure you:

1. Describe a specific, recent situation (if you can, try to keep it within two years)

2. Detail your behavior or the actions you took to resolve the situation. (Be sure that your role is clear and significant.)

3. Share the outcome or the results of the situation.

4. NOTE:  Do not use Hypothetical Answers!  When a candidate states “I would handle xyz this way” this is a clear indication that the candidate does not have the experience required!!!  Always use clear, specific examples.

  • Always listen carefully to the question, ask for clarification if necessary, and make sure you answer the question completely.
  • Your interview preparation should include identifying examples of situations from your experiences on your resume where you have demonstrated the behaviors a given company seeks.
  • When answering behavioral questions use the STAR Method and convey specific situations, actions, and outcomes/results.

1. Situation: Use specific details about a situation or task.

2. Task: Tell what led to the situation or task.

3. Action Taken: Discuss what you did and who was involved.

4. Result or outcome: Communicate the outcome.

  • Before the interview process, identify two or three of your top selling points and determine how you will convey these points (with demonstrated STAR stories) during the interview.
  • Whenever you can, quantify your results. Numbers illustrate your level of authority and responsibility. For example: “I was a shift supervisor.” could be “As Shift Supervisor, I trained and evaluated 4 employees.”
  • Be prepared to provide examples of when results didn’t turn out as you planned. What did you do then? What did you learn? Your resume will serve as a good guide when answering these questions.
  • Refresh your memory regarding your achievements in the past couple of years. Demonstration of the desired behaviors may be proven in many ways. Use examples from past internships, classes, activities, team involvements, community service and work experience.

Behavioral questions can be difficult if you are not prepared. Always try to be conscious about what the recruiter is trying to find out about you by asking you a particular question.

Here are some examples:


Tell me about a time when you had to adjust to a colleague’s working style in order to complete a project or achieve your objectives.

Analytical Skills/Problem Solving

Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem. What did you do? What was your thought process? What was the outcome? What do you wish you had done differently?

Tell me about a time where you realized your project was going to miss a milestone, deliverable or deadline.  How did you handle it?  How would you prevent this risk in the future?


What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.

Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa). How did you handle the situation? What obstacles or difficulties did you face? How did you deal with them?


Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone’s opinion.

Tell me about a problem that you’ve solved in a unique or unusual way. What was the outcome? Were you happy or satisfied with it?

Decision Making

Tell me about a difficult decision you’ve made in the last year.

Describe a situation where you have had to overcome a problem or obstacle in order to move forward with something. What did you do?

Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision without all the information you needed. How did you handle it? Why? Were you happy with the outcome?


Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.

Describe a time when you put your needs aside to help a co-worker understand a task. How did you assist him/her? What was the result?

Goal Setting

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. What steps did you take? What obstacles did you encounter? How did it make you feel?


Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.

What tricks or techniques have you learned to make school or a job easier, or to make yourself more effective? How did you learn that?

Describe a situation where you have had to use your initiative to solve a problem. What did you do?

What was the best idea you came up with during your professional or college career? How did you apply it?

Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish failed.

Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.


Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem.

Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision.

Tell me about a time you had to fire a friend.

Describe a time when you set your sights too high (or too low).

Tell of the most difficult customer service experience that you have ever had to handle-perhaps an angry or irate customer. Be specific and tell what you did and what was the outcome.

Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.

Give a specific example of a policy you conformed to with which you did not agree. Why?


Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.

Tell me about a time when you delegated a project effectively.

Tell me about a time where you had a team member not carrying their full workload or not meeting their commitments.

What has been your experience in giving presentations to small or large groups? What has been your most successful experience in speech making?

Tell me about a team project when you had to take the lead or take charge of the project? What did you do? How did you do it? What was the result?

Interpersonal Skills

Give me an example of a time when you used your fact-finding skills to solve a problem.

Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.

Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.

Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. How/why was this person difficult? How did you handle it? How did the relationship progress?

Planning and Organization/Time Management

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.

How do you prioritize projects and tasks when scheduling your time? Give me some examples.


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).

Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.

Describe a situation where you have had to work as part of a team to achieve a result. What was your role in this?

Describe a situation where others you were working with on a project disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?


Investing in a Lifetime of Success,

Angela Roberts


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