Behavioral questions are commonly asked during interviews because it allows hiring managers to sense how you would function within the organization. With these types of interview questions, the best answers follow the STAR method, which “simply summarizes the structure of your work experience,” says Alan Carniol from The Huffington Post.
It is vital to prepare answers that highlight different competencies the employer is looking for, otherwise your answers may seem longwinded and unfocused. To ensure that you are ready to answer behavioral questions during the interview, here are common topics and questions that may be asked, and the best ways to answer them.
Q: Describe a time where you worked on a team project.
A: Questions in regard to teamwork are probably the most common, because it is essential in almost every job function to interact and work with other people. With this question, hiring managers want to see if you are easy to work with and be around, especially since most people spend a majority of their week at work. Your answer needs to showcase your ability to manage conflict, work well with others, and be sensitive to other personalities and cultures.
Q: Can you tell me about a time where you had to think out of the box?
A: Interviewers may ask some variation of this question in order to gauge the extent of your problem-solving capabilities. In every workplace, unexpected issues arise, so it is important to show that you are resourceful and able to creatively think of solutions on the spot. When preparing for this question, make sure your answer is as vivid as possible and that you reference specific details about a difficult situation you have faced.
Q: Describe a time where you experienced failure.
A: Talking about failure can be difficult to properly answer, as you don’t want to discuss negative experiences in a situation where you want to positively portray your character. Hiring managers understand that no one is perfect and mistakes will be made, so they want to see that you are able to genuinely acknowledge your shortcomings and learn from a difficult situation. A great answer for this question should focus on improvements made and how this failure made you a better colleague or leader in the workplace.
Q: Tell me about a time where you were pressured to meet a deadline.
A: Time management and organizational skills are necessary in every work environment. Similar to problem-solving skills, hiring managers want to gauge how you set goals to meet a deadline and if you are able to adapt to an unexpected situation. Qualities like determination and reliability are characteristics you want to highlight when asked this type of question. It’s also best to include work tools or organization tactics you use during your day or when you need to manage a project.
Q: What motivates you?
A: There are definitely slow days at work where your work isn’t as engaging or interesting. With this question topic, hiring managers want an idea of how intrinsically driven you are. If an employee is not necessarily motivated, it may be more difficult to complete tasks and remain engaged. This morale could affect other employees’ levels of engagement as well. It is reassuring for interviewers to know that a potential hire is able to effectively and efficiently meet goals and remain stimulated, in spite of down days.
Q: Name a time where you took initiative.
A: Leadership skills are necessary for all roles within an organization, not just management-based roles. Even if you are applying for an entry level position, this question may be asked to perceive your leadership potential and move up within the organization. Hiring managers want to gauge your ability to lead and motivate others, as well as take accountability for your actions. Prepare for this question by highlighting your communications skills, your ability to interpret complex problems, and how you make tough decisions.
Other variations of behavioral questions may be asked during the interview, but these are the most common topics. You can anticipate these questions and practice your STAR answers in order to elevate your interview. This way, you’ll show hiring managers that your past experiences and behavior will meet and exceed their expectations for the role.
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