How to Prepare for Behavioral Job Interview Questions

What are Behavioral Job Interview Questions?

Well, if you are going to prepare for them, you need to know what behavioral job interview questions are, right? They ask questions about how you have (or will) behave in certain situations and require more than yes or no answers.

Common interview questions typically include several behavioral job interview questions and this article will help you recognize them and prepare your answers.

The Questions. The general format for behavioral questions is:

  1. Present a situation
  2. Ask you to describe what action you have taken to respond to something similar in the past
  3. Inquire what the result was

Your Answers. Craft your answers to provide one of the following:

  1. Concrete examples of skills and experiences that relate directly to the position you are interviewing for.
  2. Examples of your success in the past that are positive indicators of your potential success in the future at their company.

Related: Boost Your Job Search with a Professional Resume Critique

Top 10 Behavioral Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

The following list is from The Balance. As you read each one, jot down the experiences you want to share and a few key words that describe them.

Also, as you prepare for your interview, be sure to review:

1. Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.
I had been working on a key project that was scheduled for delivery to the client in 60 days. My supervisor came to me and said that we needed to speed it up and be ready in 45 days, while keeping our other projects on time. I made it into a challenge for my staff, and we effectively added just a few hours to each of our schedules and got the job done in 42 days by sharing the workload.

Of course, I had a great group of people to work with, but I think that my effective allocation of tasks was a major component of the success of the project.

2. How do you handle a challenge? Give an example.
One time, my supervisor needed to leave town unexpectedly, and we were in the middle of a touchy negotiation with a new sponsor.

I was tasked with putting together a PowerPoint presentation just from the notes he had left, and some briefing from his manager. My presentation turned out successfully- we got the sponsorship, and the management team recommended me for an award.

3. Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it? 
Once I misquoted the fees for a particular type of membership to the club where I worked. I explained my mistake to my supervisor, who appreciated my coming to him, and my honesty. He told me to offer to waive the application fee for the new member. The member joined the club despite my mistake, my supervisor was understanding, and although I felt bad that I had made a mistake, I learned to pay close attention to the details so as to give accurate information in the future.

4. Give an example of how you set goals. 
Within a few weeks of beginning my first job as a sales associate in a department store, I knew that I wanted to be in the fashion industry. I decided that I would work my way up to department manager, and at that point I would have enough money saved to be able to attend design school full-time.

I did just that, and I even landed my first job through an internship I completed the summer before graduation.

5. Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
When I started working for XYZ Company, I wanted to achieve the Employee of the Month title. It was a motivational challenge, and not all the employees took it that seriously, but I really wanted that parking spot, and my picture on the wall. I went out of my way to be helpful to my colleagues, supervisors, and customers – which I would have done anyway, I liked the job and the people I worked with. The third month I was there, I got the honor. It was good to achieve my goal, and I actually ended up moving into a managerial position there pretty quickly, I think because of my positive attitude and perseverance.

6. Describe a decision you made that wasn’t popular and how you handled implementing it.
Once, I inherited a group of employees when their supervisor relocated to another city. They had been allowed to cover each other’s shifts without management approval. I didn’t like the inconsistencies, where certain people were being given more opportunities than others. I introduced a policy where I had my assistant approve all staffing changes, to make sure that everyone who wanted extra hours and was available at certain times could be utilized.

7. Give an example of how you worked on a team.
During my last semester in college, I worked as part of a research team in the History department. The professor leading the project was writing a book on the development of language in Europe in the Middle Ages. We were each assigned different sectors to focus on, and I suggested that we meet independently before our weekly meeting with the professor to discuss our progress, and help each other out if we were having any difficulties. The professor really appreciated the way we worked together, and it helped to streamline his research as well. He was ready to start on his final copy months ahead of schedule because of the work we helped him with.

8. What do you do if you disagree with someone at work?
A few years ago, I had a supervisor who wanted me to find ways to outsource most of the work we were doing in my department. I felt that my department was one where having the staff on premises had a huge impact on our effectiveness and ability to relate to our clients. I presented a strong case to her, and she came up with a compromise plan.

9. Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers.
I was in a situation once where the management of our department was taken over by employees with experience in a totally different industry, in an effort to maximize profits over service. Many of my co-workers were resistant to the sweeping changes that were being made, but I recognized some of the benefits right off the bat, and was able to motivate my colleagues to give the new process a chance to succeed.

10. Have you handled a difficult situation? How?
When I worked at ABC Global, it came to my attention that one of my employees had become addicted to painkillers prescribed after she had surgery. Her performance was being negatively impacted, and she needed to get some help. I spoke with her privately, and I helped her to arrange a weekend treatment program that was covered by her insurance. Fortunately, she was able to get her life back on track, and she received a promotion about six months later.

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