How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions
Behavioral interview questions are gaining prominence in most job interviews. Hiring managers and employers are using behavioral questions as a tool to measure the competencies and skills of the candidate. The primary reason why such questions are asked during interviews is that it helps employers understand how the candidate handles different situations. On the other hand, this allows candidates to demonstrate their soft skills, which are as important as technical skills.
The idea behind answering behavioral interview questions is that it will provide insight into your personal attributes and problem-solving capabilities.
It helps the interviewer understand how you have behaved and performed in the past with actual scenarios and results. When we talk about traditional interviews, they are focused on open-ended questions that allow you to share things that the interviewer is expecting since they seek opinion-based responses. With this, there is always the possibility of hiring the wrong candidate for the job.
But with behavioral interview questions, it allows the interviewer to measure the candidate. According to studies, traditional interview questions are only 10% predictive of future job behavior of the employee, whereas behavioral interview questions are 55% predictive of future job behavior of the employee.
For a job aspirant, it can be difficult to provide answers to behavioral interview questions since these questions can really take a dig at you.
With that said, in this post, we will help you understand how to approach behavioral questions with the help of commonly asked interview questions.
Let’s get started.
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Most Common Behavioral Interview Questions Asked
Before you take a behavioral interview, you should know that the interviewer won’t necessarily be asking “yes or no” questions. The interviewer would want you to speak up and express yourself. While the interviewer may ask you any random questions about your previous work experience, there are some common questions that are always asked.
#1 Tell me about a time when you felt low, like when your idea was rejected, you were unable to meet your timeline goals, or when your project was falling apart. How did you tackle the adversity?
The idea behind this question is to unearth how self-motivated you are when you face difficulty in the job. What actions do you take to make sure your timelines are met? How do you unravel the challenges of a failing project? What are the ideas or suggestions that you recommend? Do you suppress the situation in a way that you get frustrated and think of quitting your job? You talk to a colleague or to the boss himself to find a better solution?
How to answer?
Since the interviewer is trying to evaluate how you deal with adversity, failure, and disappointment, there are a couple of great ways to answer this type of question.
Bad Answer: “I have never experienced an instance where I felt defeated. I always achieve my goals and I don’t stop until I get what I want.”
That’s arrogance and probably not true!
Good Answer: “There was an instance when I came to know that a project I was working on was handed over to a colleague of mine since I was struggling to meet my timeline goals. Things went sideways when I put too much time into researching. I requested my boss to let me be on the project so that I can assist because I had put my blood and sweat into the research part. My boss told me that there is no other reason but the client was asking for any progress and he thought that I was struggling. I told him that the project requires detailed research and without it, it won’t meet the requirements. I convinced my boss to put up a meeting with the client. I explained everything to the client about where they went wrong regarding the timeline and the prospect of the project. In the end, they were happy with the research I had put on and told me that take as long as you want but we need a product that your research mentions. We delivered the product the client wanted.”
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#2 Describe a time when you did a blunder costing the company the project. What was the outcome? What did you do?
The idea behind this question is to let the candidate speak of values and integrity. What they had to do in times of uncertain and uncomfortable situations?
How to answer?
The interviewer wants to see your honesty. You can answer this question accordingly.
Bad Answer: “I don’t remember such a thing like that happening to me.”
Good Answer: “I remember when I was still a fresher I was nervous all the time. I always feared the worst if something bad happens because of my mistake. There was a project that I was part of where I was given the responsibility to back up data every single day. After the developers created different segments of the web page, it was up to me to back up the data. Since web pages were created every day, the data needed to be backed up every day. However, I was careless and this led me to not back a week’s worth of data. All of a sudden, the client asked for the backup data so that he can use it to review the pages. When my team got to know about it, they were furious. I admitted my mistake, worked hard, pulled an all-nighter, and managed to back up a week’s worth of data. I worked hard to correct it and took steps to ensure that the same kind of mistake won’t happen again.”
#3 Tell me about a time where your opinions weren’t entertained even though you knew you were right. What did you do? Did you follow the guidelines?
The idea behind this question is to determine the candidate’s ability to follow what his/her superior asks to do.
How to answer?
The interviewer is evaluating your ability to follow company guidelines and directions.
Bad Answer: “I know I was right so I didn’t bother putting my energy into the work.”
Good Answer: “There was a time in my previous company when they started firing employees and started outsourcing. One of the prominent members of our team was also fired. I talked to my superiors about the consequences they will have to face in the future. I talked to them about the importance of having an in-house digital marketing team. But they discarded everything I said. Then I never argued with them about what every dedicated employee would do – did my work with honesty as it was a time-critical situation. I put all my effort into work even though I was lacking a team I wanted. Then I found an appropriate time to demonstrate to my superiors about why outsourcing isn’t a great option in our case.”
Possible Follow Up Questions
- When you have gotten a special appreciation for something you did on the job?
- How do you deal with a difficult boss?
- How have you saved your company money in the past?
- Give me an example of a time where you had to explain something difficult to the client
- What were the things that you liked in your first job?
- Have you ever convinced your boss to change his mind about something?
- Have you ever been in a conflict with your team members? How did you deal with it?
- What did you do when your schedule was interrupted?
These are some of the most common behavioral interview questions and answers that you must know.
Now, we get on to the segment where we discuss how you can approach these behavioral questions.
How to Prepare for Behavioral Questions?
Answering behavioral questions requires confidence. Since the interviewer will be looking for things in you that suit their company needs, you need to research all about the company. The following are the best practices to follow when preparing for behavioral questions.
#1 Do your homework
First things first, you need to analyze the job description and the organization you will be interviewing with. If you know anybody from the company, ask them about the company culture and values. Research the types of employees working at the organization and get information about the current or last incumbent of the position you are interviewing for.
#2 Prepare a list of skills, attributes, and competencies
Answers to behavioral questions give you a chance to showcase your ability, talent, and results. Research what type of competencies the company is looking for. Most organizations look for competencies like responsibility, goal orientation, creativity, leadership and management material, attention to detail, flexibility, timelines, efficiency, ability to focus, team player, and communication.
#3 Review all your past experiences
Here, you will have to tell stories to the interviewer. So prepare a few stories and recall the experiences that made you capable. You need to come up with scenarios that were extremely difficult and challenging for you. And tell how you overcame it with the solution.
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Pointers on How One Can Project Desirable Qualities in your Response
When practicing to answer behavioral questions, we recommend that you follow the STAR interview technique.
- Situation – Set a scene or describe a situation. Explain the task you were given or the company you were working at
- Task – describe the problem or complexity you were faced with
- Action – describe how did you tackle the problem and how did you approach the situation
- Results – describe the results generated by your actions. Describe how you helped solve a major crisis at the company
For many, behavioral interview questions can be intimidating. However, the behavioral questions give you the opportunity to showcase your talent in your own words and ways. All it takes is a little preparation according to the company you are having an interview with.