Types of behavioral interview questions

Behavioral interview questions are asked in most interviews today. So......to help develop your job interview skills for a behavioral interview we'll take a look at example interview questions.

What behavioral interview questions can you expect?

This topic was extensively covered at behavioral interview tips.

In summary however, you can expect to be asked questions about the skills, knowledge and experience which are outlined in the selection criteria.

For example, if one of the selection criterion is for the candidate to have well developed project management skills, then expect questions about your project management experience.

Beyond this though there are skills required in most jobs, possibly not outlined in the selection criteria, which will be the focus of behavioral interview questions.

These skills, commonly known as transferable skills, or core competencies, include:

  • Communication skills - interpersonal and written
  • Team working skills
  • Leadership
  • Planning and organising
  • Problem solving and decision making
  • Initiative and enterprise
  • Self management skills
  • Learning skills
  • Technology skills

To give you some idea about the types of questions you might be asked in these categories we will look at some example questions for each category.

Do you need to extend your skills with behavioral questions?

If you are being interviewed for a professional position you will be asked a number of behavioral questions in the interview.

If you need to take your skills in dealing with these questions to the next level then please take a look at the Ultimate Guide to Job Interview Answers.

Will this really help make the difference. Check out why people who have used this Guide give it a rating of four and a half stars!!

Behavioral interview questions - Communication skills

Interpersonal skills

  • Describe a time when you had to either promote or defend a point of view that you knew would be unpopular. What approach did you take to engage the other party/parties? What was the outcome?
  • Please tell us about a time where it was important that you be able to quickly establish a working relationship with an important customer or client. Why was it important that you do this? How did you attempt to do this? How successful were your efforts?

Written communication skills

  • Describe a situation where you had to prepare an extensive written report which included your recommendations to the reader for action to be taken. What approach did you take to persuade the reader to accept your recommendations?
  • Describe a writing assignment that was difficult for you? Why was this difficult? What was the outcome?

Behavioral interview questions - team working skills

  • Tell us about a time when you became a member of a newly formed team. Explain any specific action you took that may have assisted the team to begin to work as a cohesive unit.
  • Think of a time when you had to resolve a conflict between you and another team member. How did you approach the situation? What was the outcome?
  • Give an example of a time where you and co-worker simply didn't get along, yet it was important that you be able to work closely together. What did you do about this situation? What was the result?

You can perhaps deduct that some fairly in-depth interview responses are going to be required when these types of interview questions are asked.

In behavioral interviews one of the most important job interview skills is the ability to "think on your feet" - to quickly recall and then describe a relevant situation.

Clearly, it's going to be easier for you to deal with these types of questions if you've done some preparation.

So, the best job interview advice is......look closely at the selection criteria. For each criterion ensure you have several examples of situations that you can speak about, if asked.

Behavioral interview questions - Leadership

  • Leadership is all about achieving things through the efforts of others. Tell us about a situation that best illustrates your ability to do this?
  • Describe the last time that you had to assume a leadership role. Describe what you did to motivate your team to work with you.
  • Tell us about a situation where a member of your team wasn't performing. Describe how you handled this situation. What was the outcome?

Behavioral interview questions - Planning and organising

  • Tell us about a time where you have had to manage competing and equally important priorities. How did you approach this situation? What was the outcome? What, in hindsight, would you have done differently?
  • Describe a situation where an unforeseen event had a major impact on your plans. How did you deal with this situation? What happened as a result?
  • Tell us about a situation where your planning and organising skills were really put to the test. What was it about the situation that tested you most? How satisfied were you with the outcome?

Behavioral interview questions - Problem solving and decision making

  • Describe a situation where you had a difficult problem to solve. Why was the problem difficult for you? How did you attempt to solve this problem? What factors did you consider in deciding what to do?
  • What has been the most significant problem you have ever had to deal with? Why was this significant for you? How did you resolve the problem?
  • What has been the most difficult decision you've had to make in your career? Why was this decision difficult for you? How did you decide?
  • Describe a time when you had to make an important decision quickly. Explain what you did to arrive at your decision.
  • Tell us about a time when you have made a poor decision. What were the circumstances? What did you learn from this event?

Behavioral interview questions - Initiative and enterprise

  • Describe a time when you've have used your initiative in order to get a job done? What did you do? What was the outcome?
  • Tell us about a time when you have exceeded a client's expectations? Why did you decide to do this? What did you do?
  • Describe a time when you have acted on an opportunity to either make or save money for your employer. What was the opportunity? How did you identify it? What action did you take and what was the outcome?

Behavioral interview questions - Self management skills

  • Describe a time in your career where personal time management was important in order to meet all your obligations. How did you prioritise your time? How successful were your efforts to do this?
  • Tell us about a particularly stressful period in your life. What did you do to manage your stress?
  • Describe a situation where you have successfully achieved a goal that you have set for yourself. What was the goal? How did you plan to achieve it? Why did you achieve it?
  • Do you prefer to make firm plans for the future, or take things as they come? Explain why this approach works for you?
  • Describe a time in your career where you have had to deal with significant change. How effective were you in dealing with those changes?

Behavioral interview questions - Learning skills

  • Describe a time when you decided to take responsibility for your own learning in relation to your professional development. Why did you decide to do this? What did you do?
  • Describe a situation where you have had to learn a new skill very quickly. How did you go about learning this skill? What would you change about your approach if you had to do this again?

Behavioral interview questions - Technology skills

  • What technology skills do you consider are essential in your career? Which of these do you already possess? How did you acquire them? What plans do you have to acquire technology skill that you don't have?
  • Describe a situation where you have had to acquire a new technological skill.
  • Give an example of a time where you have used technology to achieve a productivity or efficiency improvement.

Summary

These example interview questions - so called 'behavioral questions', have been provided to assist you to develop your job interview skills.

You will have noticed that the questions usually follow a particular formula - tell us about a situation, what did you do, what was the outcome?

The quality of your job interview preparation therefore have a major influence on your ability to participate in a behavioral interview.

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