Behavioral interview questions

Here are some examples of behavioral interview questions you may want to prepare your story answers for.

ADAPTABILITY

What does it mean?

  • maintaining effectiveness in varying environments, tasks and responsibilities, or with various types of people
  • being open to different ideas and perspectives
  • making an effort to work effectively with others even though their preferred way of working is different from yours
  • accepting that others may do things differently than you would
  • showing flexibly when applying guidelines or procedures to get the job done and meet organizational objectives
  • recognizing that certain situations require different approaches and reacting appropriately
  • adjusting priorities and plans in response to changing circumstances
  • enthusiastically adopting new systems or procedures

Typical behavioral questions:

  • Tell me about a situation in which you have had to adjust to changes over which you had no control. How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to adjust to a classmate's or colleague's working style in order to complete a project or achieve your objectives.
  • By providing examples, convince us that you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations and environments.

 

ANALYTICAL SKILLS & PROBLEM SOLVING

What does it mean?

  • relating and comparing data from different sources identifying issues, securing relevant information, identifying relationships and implementing solutions.
  • ability to reach logical conclusions, solve problems, analyze factual information, and take action
  • ability to define and prioritize objectives according to the intensity, direction and priority of desires or ambitions
  • breaking-down problems into component parts
  • thinking about the chain of events that led to a problem
  • thinking ahead about the consequences of an action ("If I do A, then B, and C will also happen")
  • thinking through a problem before offering a solution
  • looking at the problem from different angles

Typical behavioral questions:

  • Describe the project or situation that best demonstrates your analytical abilities. What was your role?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to analyze information and make a recommendation. To whom did you make the recommendation? What was your reasoning? What kind of thought process did you go through? Why?
  • Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem. What did you do? What was your thought process? What was the outcome?

 

COMMUNICATION

What does it mean? 

  • ability to clearly express ideas verbally or in writing
  • recognizing underlying concerns or feelings that may not be openly expressed
  • actively listening and allowing others an opportunity to fully express themselves
  • thinking about how people will respond before you communicate your thoughts
  • customizing responses to reflect audience differences
  • checking understanding in ways that are
    appropriate to the audience

Typical behavioral questions:

  • Tell me about a recent successful experience in making a speech or presentation. How did you prepare? What obstacles did you face? How did you handle them?
  • Have you ever had to "sell" an idea to your classmates or co-workers? Supervisor? How did you do it? Did they accept your idea?
  • Tell me about a time in which you had to use your written communication skills in order to get an important point across. What was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a situation when you had to convince (be assertive) in order to get a point across that was important to you.

 

INTERPERSONAL SKILLS AND SENSITIVITY 

What does it mean?

  • acting out of consideration for the feelings and needs of others.

Typical behavioral questions:

  • Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. How/why was this person difficult? How did you handle it?
  • Describe a situation where you found yourself dealing with someone who didn't like you. How did you handle it?
  • Describe a recent unpopular decision you made. How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work on a team with someone you did not get along with. What happened? How did it affect the result
  • Describe a situation where you had a conflict with another individual, and how you dealt with it. What was the outcome? How did you feel about it?
  • Describe a situation in which you had to work with someone who you found very different in their needs and values. How did you feel about it?

 

CREATIVITY

What does it mean?

  • ability to use imagination and originality to create or improve something
  • questioning whether the current approach is still the best approach
  • striving to come up with a number of different solutions to a problem
  • looking at what other organizations are doing
    successfully and determining what you could transfer to your organization
  • focusing on the value of finding new ideas and acting on them

Typical behavioral questions:

  • Tell me about a problem that you've solved in a unique or unusual way. What was the outcome? Were you and/or your boss happy or satisfied with it?
  • Give me an example of when someone brought you a new idea that was odd or unusual. What did you do?

 

CUSTOMER SERVICE ORIENTATION

What does it mean?

  • efforts to listen to and understand internal and
    external customer needs and give high priority to customer satisfaction.
  • interacting with clients in a respectful, helpful and responsive manner
  • discussing the client’s need with them and their satisfaction with service delivered
  • taking responsibility to resolve a client's
    problem even if it goes beyond the usual or normal demands of the job
  • taking the time to ensure that the client understands the information provided as it relates to their situation
  • using your knowledge to think through what
    would be best for the client and acting accordingly
  • taking into consideration the client’s viewpoint
    and feedback to identify how to serve them more effectively
  • building and maintaining productive long-term
    relationships with clients
  • using an understanding of client’s perspective
    to identify constraints and advocate on their
    behalf

Typical behavioral question:

Describe the most difficult internal or external customer service experience that you have ever had to handle-perhaps an angry or irate customer. Be specific and tell what you did and what the outcome was.

 

DECISION MAKING

What does it mean?

  • ability to make a choice from among a number of alternatives
  • a statement indicating a commitment to a specific course of action.
  • making tough decisions which support the team and the organization, and which are in line with personal and organizational ethics
  • keeping team members informed about decisions and explaining the rationale
  • managing team operations and decisions
    through the efforts of team members
  • building team morale and encouraging team
    members to support the team goals and each
    other
  • actively promoting the links between team
    activities and the strategic direction of the
    organization
  • treating all team members fairly
  • setting direction and providing role clarity
  • making sure your team has appropriate training and other resources

Typical behavioral questions:

  • Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision. What obstacles did you face? What did you do?
  • What is the most difficult decision you've had to make? How did you arrive at your decision? What was the result?
  • What was your most difficult decision in the last six months? What made it difficult?
  • What kind of decisions do you make rapidly? What kind takes more time?
  • What steps do you follow to study a problem before making a decision?

LEADERSHIP

What does it mean?

  • ability to significantly affect the thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors of a significant number of individuals.

Typical interview questions?

  • Give an example of your ability to build motivation in your co-workers, or classmates,
    volunteer committee members, or subordinates.
  • Tell me about a team project when you had to take the lead or take charge of the project? What did you do? How did you do it? What was the result?
  • Describe a leadership role of yours. Why did you commit your time to it?
  • What is the toughest group that you have had to get cooperation from? What were the obstacles? How did you handle these? What was the end result?
  • In a supervisory or group leader role, have you ever had to discipline or counsel an employee or group member? What was the nature of the discipline? What steps did you take? How did that make you feel? What was the outcome?

 

GOAL SETTING

What does it mean?

  • ability to define and prioritize objectives according to the intensity, direction and priority of desires or ambitions.
  • considering how day-to-day tasks support the
    broader organizational objectives
  • aligning your activities and priorities with the
    organization's strategic goals
  • analyzing trends and determining potential
    implications for your organization
  • developing a clearly defined vision for the
    organization

 

Typical behavioral questions:

  • Give me an example of an important goal which you have set and tell me how you achieved it. What steps did you take? What obstacles did you encounter?
  • Tell me about an organizational goal setting process you have participated in. What was your role? What obstacles did you encounter? How did it make you feel?

 

INITIATIVE

What does it mean?

  • making active attempts to influence events to achieve goals. Taking action to achieve goals beyond what is necessarily called for, originating action.
  • recognizing courses of action which can be taken to handle potential problems
  • suggesting courses of action that others can take to improve work processes
  • identifying potential problems even if you are not directly involved
  • taking action that will lead to improved
    organizational performance
  • seeking information and conducting research on your own in order to act on opportunity or problem

Typical behavioral questions:

  • Describe a project or idea (not necessarily your own) that was implemented primarily because of your efforts. What was your role? What was the outcome?
  • Describe a situation in which you recognized a potential problem as an opportunity. What did you do? What was the result? What do you wish you had done differently?
  • Tell me about a project you initiated. What did you do? Why? What was the outcome? Were you happy with the result?
  • Tell me about a time when your initiative caused a positive work process change to occur.
  • What was the best idea you came up with during your professional or college career? How did you apply it?

 

MOTIVATION

What does it mean?

  • The ability to combine desire and energy toward achieving a goal.

Typical Interview Questions

  • Give an example of a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Describe a situation when you were able to have an influence on the actions of others.
  • Tell me about the situation in the last six months where you worked the hardest.

PLANNING, ORGANIZING AND MANAGING TIME

What does it mean?

  • Establishing a course of action for yourself and others to accomplish specific goals.
  • Planning proper assignments for personnel and appropriately allocating resources, including your time and that of other people.

Typical Interview Questions

  • Describe a time when you had multiple projects or assignments due at the same time.
  • What steps did you take to get them all done?
  • Tell me about a project that you planned. How did you organize and schedule the tasks?
  • Tell me about your action plan. How do you schedule your time? Set priorities?
  • How do you handle doing 20 things at once
  • What do you do when your time schedule or project plan is upset by unforeseen circumstances? Give an example.

 

STRESS

What does it mean?

  • The ability to use coping skills in order to work efficiently under pressure.

Typical Interview Questions

  • Describe a time when you were faced with problems or stresses that tested your coping
    skills. What was the outcome? What did you learn from the experience?

 

TEAMWORK

What does it mean?

  • The ability to work effectively with others at various levels of the organization (i.e., peers, other units, senior management) to accomplish organizational goals and to identify and resolve problems.

Typical Interview Questions

  • Describe a situation where others you were working with on a project disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?
  • Describe a situation in which you had to arrive at a compromise or help others to compromise. What was your role? What steps did you take?What was the result?
  • Describe the types of teams you've been involved with. What were your roles? Describe a team experience you found rewarding (disappointing). Why?

 

TECHNICAL & PROFESSIONAL KNOWLEDGE

What does it mean?

  • Candidate's level of understanding of specific technical and professional information and his/her ability to apply technical and
    professional skills.

Typical Interview Questions

  • Describe a situation where you had to request help or assistance on an assignment. Give examples of specific accomplishments that demonstrate your mastering of ______.
  • Give an example of how you applied knowledge of ____________ to a project or assignment.

 

WORK STANDARDS

What does it mean?

  • Ability to meet goals or standards of performance, or to set them for subordinates.

Typical Interview Questions

  • Describe some times when you were not very satisfied or pleased with your performance.
    What did you do about it? What was the outcome?
  • Describe specific steps you have taken to improve your performance.
  • Describe a time when you supervised others or lead a team who did not meet work standards. What did you do? What were the results?

 

References:
> Canada Revenue Agency, CRA Competency Catalogue, 2015.
> West Virginia Division of Personnel, Staffing Services, Test Construction and Research Section. Selection Interviewing Developing and Administering Structured Behavioral Interviews, Supervisory Resource Guide, 2004.