5 Smart Strategies for Behavioral Interview Questions

For many people who want to secure a job today getting through the behavioral interview may seem like a hurdle race that looks endless and sometimes pointless. Some questions from the hiring staff do help to show off your success and skills, and some just make you feel as if you volunteered for a psychological behavioral experiment with no clear goal or benchmarks. However, this is the contemporary reality of the work market. So if you plan to be a successful candidate and provide answers in the interview that will make you look a true expert, get our assistance and some training first.

What Employers Seek When They Ask Behavioral Questions

Basically, employers do not want to make a fool of you. When managers ask interview questions of the kind tell time when you failed and what lessons you got from it or describe the example time when you worked under high pressure and succeeded, they mean what they say. How you dealt with these cases in the past time predicts how you will tackle them in the future. The good news is that you have definitely faced such challenges before, so go through common sample answers and decide what your past work experience fits well into this framework.

Any company does need a professional who will have both expertise in the trade and ability to do team work.  So if you answer in the way that is considered a great answer according to common standards of recruiting, you will most definitely land dream jobs.

Strategies to Answer Behavioral Questions

Each poison has its antidote, so to say, and today you can explore probable interview questions online in advance and find video lessons on how to answer them. For your convenience, we have picked and systematized the best tips and behavioral questions asked quite often that you need to know. Sometimes they are called STAR interview questions (after situation, task, action, result abbreviation). Questions answers are also provided. In other words, we offer a practice tool that will provide decent training. It may seem that some inquiries are irrelevant or go too deeply into the privacy of a candidate (Harvard Business Review’s article of 2019 confirms these uneasy feelings). Yet as long as you find yourself in the chair of an interviewee, you need to give a cool answer to each. So arm yourself with this behavioral interview guide and get ready for the crucial hiring challenge. Keep in mind these strategies before you start sketching your responses along with your goal:

Be prepared

That is, look through offered interview questions, look at the position requirement, decide what suitable experiences and cases from your professional past you can disclose without confidentiality infringement and rehearse your speech. It should be brief and up to the point. Pay attention to what makes good answer and bad answer.  That’s key to being the best job candidate.

Be positive

Do not blame anyone else for job faults, yours or those of others. In your interview focus on what was done to fix the trouble. Usually, there are many reasons for failures, and making another person a scapegoat never helps. Instead, a blame-shifting answer showcases you as a whiner who will never take responsibility and will not be a pleasant team player. You do the job search, and a person opposite you will evaluate candidate in you, so keep that in mind.

Be brief

Sometimes saying too much in a job interview is saying too much in a negative sense. If you dwell for too long on any particular question, you risk ending with blame-shifting or self-justifying. Present the facts that demonstrate your soft skills and experience, and let the manager do the judging. Expand answers only when asked, and do it carefully on such behavioral interview.

Be truthful

Yes, no matter how long you rehearse, watch video lessons or invent the best answers, tell the truth about yourself. One or two follow-up questions that catch you off guard will shatter your faked showcase interview of an expert and put an end to a career phase that did not even begin.

Be careful

Mind what you say and in what scope. Some information may be proprietary, and employers tend to evaluate candidate as potential traitors as well. If you disclose sensitive things about your past job before being hired to a new one, then how you will handle the trade secrets of a new employer? So think twice, and in such a situation tell less, and explain openly that you cannot tell more for ethical reasons.

Example Answers for Common Behavioral Interview Questions

Now the most exciting part: the lessons in what interview questions you may face and how to answer them in the way great employees do. Before you put together you describe a time or tell time when you type questions, remember that there can be a good answer, a bad answer and even a great answer. The event you tell about can be the same, it is the presentation and selected highlights that make the boring stuff into the glorious answers a hiring manager has ever received. Go through the following interview questions and come up with your own sample answers.

  1. Please tell time when: you worked on the project under lots of pressure or faced unexpected challenges or just found yourself in a tight professional corner because of some external reasons.

What’s not to say in an interview: I do not have such situations, I always schedule/stay ahead/outperform. Or: cannot remember that time, everything is as usual in my place. Every job, even the simplest one, has its bottlenecks. So either you are lying or you are doing nothing all the time (and so never feel the pressure in your project).

What’s OK to say in an interview: you had to sieve through lots of data to arrive at a solid decision and do it fast. Or you had to negotiate something across several departments and also do it fast.

What’s great to say in a behavioral interview: you made some important data-based decisions in time-pressed conditions and managed to consider human factors as well (how it will impact and work out for other people). In other words, you were able to step in fast and to account for the future impact of the action as well.

  1. Please tell time when: you worked on a team successfully or motivated a team member.

There are few ways to fail on this question, but they exist. They are to respond that motivating others is not your direct task, or that your team is a random bunch of people who are hard to get along with.

What’s OK to say in an interview: that you work hard to be a helpful mate on board, and so you aim to interact well with everyone. Or: that you always find the right words for people who seem struggling or low on the spirit.

What’s cool to say in an interview: reply to these questions that you try to facilitate communication and help others get along smoothly and that you always provide a bit of help on a project to people who need it because this is the most useful motivation. The proactive step is a sign of an excellent employee who may make it to higher ranks and contribute to better management of a firm. No one wants to miss such a valuable interviewee.

  1. Please tell time when: you disagreed on an important issue with a colleague or boss.

There is no wrong answer here because the job environment can be different and sometimes it is easier to quit than to start an argument with a boss or co worker.

But it is really cool if you can say that you picked the time, raised an issue in private environment and managed to find a compromise or at least make clear there are issues that need to be settled. Or even better answer: you raised the issue in public on the part of many people affected by it. The ability to represent the interests of others is a highly valuable leadership quality, and if an employer does not like your answer to these questions (even if without showing it), then this is not the right place to work at.

  1. Please tell time when: you did not achieve a goal, failed or was deeply dissatisfied with results you got.

What’s not to say in an interview: I never fail. That’s the big lie. Never fails he who does nothing. Employers want know the truth, at least in a reasonable amount. You may as well consider your job interview finished.

What’s OK to say: that you did got a mistake in something some time ago but helped fix the problem, learned the lessons and take care to avoid such fails in your work.

What’s great to say in an interview: that you failed but did everything to fix the damage, admitted your fault, learned the lesson and introduced the step that will prevent others from repeating your mistake. Excellent. Responsibility is accepted and the system is fixed to avoid bugs in the future.

  1. Please tell time when: you achieved a goal or made a successful decision. How did you do that?

No improper answer in your big interview here, because everyone had their moments of fame that were fully earned. Just describe the ones that highlight how you handle interpersonal relations and cooperation and how your experiences help the business as a whole.

  1. Give example how you managed a very hard situation that could impact your career in a major way.

There may come the time when you have to decide whether it is all worth it or you can quit and start all anew. Anyway, no matter what case you describe in your interview, be sure to tell how you arrived at the given decision and if you have attempted other solutions. For example, the constant demand for working overtime is not normal, and if your boss refuses to recognize it as internal system troubles and says that you need to work harder instead, there are few chances you will persuade him/her to change the policy. No questions, it is more reasonable to quit than to burn out and be dumped like used material. That’s the answer interviewee can offer. Or you can describe time with similar crucial experience. Just do not tell too sentimental stories.

  1. Give example how you had to ‘sell’ a very unpopular decision to a team.

What’s not to say in an interview: I just told them to do what is expected, it’s not a kindergarten to play games and fool around. Well, that’s not how big companies function, and sooner or later employees will go elsewhere, where they will be heard by top ranks.

What’s OK to say as an answer: I explained why it was necessary to do so and suggested that afterward they will be compensated financially or by other bonuses, for example. The most practical and workable motivation (except for Millennials, probably). These are fully acceptable answers.

What’s great to say for a big interview effect: I linked the need for this decision to the firm’s goal and current state of affairs, and let the staff have their say and gave answers to their questions. Basically, the concept of the decision was not changed, but some adjustments made people accept the decision and agree that it was the only way out at a given time. Such an example of excellent communication and persuasion skills is highly valued, so do not miss the chance to tell about it in your behavioral talk.

  1. Please describe time when you had to make a choice: to do ‘justice’ in its common sense or to follow internal guidelines.

Justice and being right are cool things, but some bosses view them as secondary to adopted working rules. So, what’s not to say in your answer when you are an interviewee: you found a way to circumvent the rules and organize everything your way. If you do what you want in one case, who knows when you will decide to act independently from the fixed guidelines next time? That’s how they evaluate you as a candidate.

What’s OK to say: that you had dubious feelings but still followed the rules. That’s what employers want know – no matter what, a person will do the job.

What’s great to say: that you not only did what was required by the rules yourself but also encouraged others to do the same in the time of doubt. Extinguishing the flame of a conflict that did not grow wild yet is an invaluable decision, and you are guaranteed a position if you can tell such a story from your experience. You give example of an almost ideal candidate by it.

  1. In the following situation tell please what you did when: faced a very difficult customer, had to deal with complaints from a client, had to goal evaluate in new circumstances and choose between customers because of resource scarcity.

In the service and B2C industry, making a customer happy (in legal and reasonable boundaries) is a key to company success. So dealing carefully with customer’s dissatisfaction or choosing whom to serve first takes a lot of care and skills.

So what’s not to mention as an example time: I do not care who says what, I am not a dollar bill to be loved by everyone. Alas, it is exactly your job to be pleasant to everyone, and your answer in the behavioral one needs to show it, otherwise hiring becomes a doubtful prospect.

What answers are OK to give: I try to be positive in communication with every customer and try to find a solution that will suit both a client and a business every time. Simple and nice.

A great thing to say: I find ways to eliminate potential system problems in advance, do my best to satisfy customers’ needs because they want to get good services they pay for, and finally if priorities need to be set, I try to pacify the laid-off customers with some bonus and apology. Good word and open interest in negotiating a satisfactory decision deliver wonder. Give example of specific service/goods you offered in exchange for layoff, if possible. Always. Combo! You help customers, but you also reason proactively and so eliminate troubles where possible. This is the behavior employers want in workers during an interview, so cheers to you, an expert in your field.

As you can see from the above examples, all questions in the interview can be roughly divided into behavioral groups:

  • teamwork;
  • soft skills;
  • readiness to lead and make decisions;
  • Job motivation;
  • Customer service;
  • Ability to handle a hard situation.

Most probably, you have faced some or all of example challenges on your career path, so just pick the bright example time that shows you in advantageous light or shows how you learned to be a better candidate from it. A great answer to each during the behavioral talk also shows that you are proactive and will not wait for instructions to expand your skills and duties and take the lead.

The Finer Points on Answering Behavioral Interview Questions

Do not be in a hurry to respond to the answers. It will really look like you have rehearsed them. Mention that the question is really interesting, then think a little bit and then tell your story.

No matter what job interview questions you are talking about, always use the principles offered above. Do not lie and do not push your achievements forward at the costs of ‘trashing’ others. To understand the talking goal evaluate yourself from the viewpoint of an employer, and many things will look easier to you.

Be ready to receive follow-up questions that expand the details of your story. Employers want know that your example is true, and so facts and finer points are indicators that you did not make everything up. Hopeful news: you can give example of the same key career cases for different questions. You are not expected to save the world or your workplace every other time. Just show in every interview how you evaluate these cases and what you learn from them.

To avoid being nudged for more details, expand the answer to questions in advance (just keep a clear measure of what you can and cannot say in terms of ethics and disclosure).

All in all, just remember, that this is not the last big interview in your life and that a person on the other side of the table may want initiative employees just as much as you need this position. So be serious, be honest, mind our tips, decide on the example time you will talk about in the behavioral test and the chances are high you will land dream position you want so much.

If you have read the questions and see them as intimidating, we offer a solution. You can use our virtual practice tool, behavioral interview outlines and answers to them to get some video training and feel the taste of the answer interviewee should provide. Skilling happens to you across your employment term, but some priming on common behavioral inquiries will boost your chances of career development. Whether you need to describe time of some particular significance or just explore your own professional situations from an outside viewpoint – we are here to handle everything and create a draft of a big interview that can change your life for better.