Behavioural Interview Questions (With Example Answers)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 17 August 2022 | Published 25 June 2021
Updated 17 August 2022
Published 25 June 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Recruiters ask behavioural interview questions to gauge a professional's ability to address particular situations that arise in the workplace. Behavioural interview questions give professionals a chance to display their skills by sharing past work experiences. Since recruiters in most industries ask these types of questions, it's important to understand their definition and how to answer them. In this article, we explain what a behavioural interview is and share a list of example questions, along with example answers and tips for you to consider.
What is a behavioural interview?
A behavioural interview focuses on questions that allow candidates to reflect and share their past professional behaviour. Recruiters use this interview technique to determine a professional's skills, personality and capabilities. These interviews usually include contextual questions that ask candidates to share their thoughts on what they would do in certain situations.
Behavioural interview questions are similar to competency-based questions. Each type usually enquires about a certain situation, requires an in-depth reply and has more than one right answer. Instead, each candidate answers these questions based on their own experiences and perspectives.
Behavioural interview questions
To prepare for your interview, it's helpful to practice answering questions the interviewer may ask you. Here are some examples of questions you might be asked in a behavioural interview:
Tell me about a time when you worked on an effective team.
How do you handle dissatisfied customers?
Describe a time when you had to learn a new skill on the job.
How do you react when you witness a colleague practising improper work behaviour?
Tell me about a time when you were the expert on a subject. How did you explain this topic to others?
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
Describe your approach to managing disagreements within the workplace.
Tell me about a time in which you adopted an official or unofficial leadership role.
What do you consider being excellent customer service?
How would you approach a situation in which you needed to get information from someone who is being unresponsive?
Tips for behavioural interviews
Since behavioural interview questions are open-ended, candidates can answer them in a variety of ways. While these questions don't have designated right or wrong answers, interviewers often analyse a candidate's answer for a sign of certain qualities. For example, if a company wants to hire a professional who feels that a priority is treating customers with kindness and listening to their needs, the recruiters likely wait for a candidate to indicate they share this value in their answer.
To prepare for a behavioural interview, consider these tips:
Use the STAR method
The STAR method refers to an interview practice that separates interview answers into these sections:
Situation: Start your answer by briefly explaining the situation you plan to discuss.
Task: Then, describe your role in the scenario or your original goal.
Action: In this part of your answer, discuss what actions you took in the situation, along with any other relevant professional's behaviour.
Result: Finally, end your answer by telling the interview the impact of your actions and the story's conclusion.
Keep your answers brief
Try to keep your answers as brief as possible. This allows you to share the most relevant details of your answer and keep the focus on your skills and values. While practising your answers, consider timing yourself. It's often best to keep your answers between one and two minutes long.
Include keywords in your answer
Before attending the interview, consider re-reading the original job description to remind yourself of the employer's expectations and preferences. This helps you find keywords to use in the interview. Keywords refer to any phrases that recruiters list in the job posting to describe what type of candidate they are looking for.
For example, if a recruiter mentioned in a job post they prefer a candidate who has strong collaboration skills, mentioning how well you work on a team during one of your answers may put you in the interviewer's good favour.
Be honest and humble
The interviewer may ask you several questions that feel negative, such as 'describe a moment of weakness you faced at work'. When answering these questions, try to be honest. Many recruiters appreciate humility and honesty in an answer. It is also important to include the steps you are taking to improve a situation or a lesson you learned from an unfortunate work experience.
If your interviewer asks a question that you don't understand, ask for clarification. This allows you to create a well-informed answer and prevents misunderstandings. Most recruiters don't mind rephrasing their question or specifying what information they are looking for.
Ask former colleagues to describe you
Before you attend your interview, consider asking your colleagues how they would describe your personality and work ethic. This allows you to gain perspective on how your work affects others. Your colleague's comments also may give you ideas of ways to describe yourself in the interview and identify areas of improvement.
Practice your answers
When preparing for your interview, practice your answers out loud. This helps you gain confidence in your answers. Practising your answers also ensures you find the best phrasing for your response. When you do this, consider timing your responses. This helps you shorten your lengthy responses or add more details to answers that feel short.
Behavioural interview example answers
When creating your own answers to behavioural interview questions, it's helpful to consider example answers. Here are some examples of ways you might answer behavioural interview questions:
1. Tell me about a time when you worked with someone whose personality differed from yours.
Employers ask this question to gauge how well you work with others. Many companies value diversity in the workplace, so you are likely to work with people of different backgrounds and personalities. Maintaining a professional and productive relationship with your co-workers helps shape positive workplace culture. When answering this question, be sure to specify the differences between you and your co-worker and the steps you took to stay productive while working with them.
Example: 'In my previous position, I worked closely with a colleague who is much more talkative than I am. While I usually complete my work in silence, they enjoyed making small talk and humming while working. Though I struggled with this difference in personality at first, I soon realised I could entertain my colleague's occasional small talk while staying productive at the same time. This also helped me develop a more outgoing personality, which has helped me form stronger professional relationships.'
2. Describe a time in which you accepted a responsibility outside of your job description.
Many employers value professionals who complete extra work from time to time. Though companies don't require you to accept additional tasks, doing so can help improve your team's productivity. When answering this question, try to be humble and explain the situation in clear detail. Recruiters use this question to test your work ethic as well, so try to be proud of your answer instead of expressing dissatisfaction.
Example: 'While working in a local restaurant, I noticed that one of the new hires who had passed through the training process still struggled occasionally to remember company protocols and important tasks. They seemed reluctant to ask for help, so I decided to politely offer my help. Together, we discovered additional training methods that worked for them, which helped them to become a very skilled employee.'
3. Tell me about a time when you needed to use stress management methods to stay productive.
Stress management is an important skill for any professional to develop, but it is especially essential to certain industries, such as health care careers. Recruiters ask this behavioural question to see if you establish stress management techniques while working. This provides insight into your working habits and abilities. When answering this question, be sure to explain what stress management method you use and try to stay positive when explaining the past experience.
Example: 'The work environment of my most recent job was often fast-paced with strict deadlines. While I feel I perform well under pressure now, this was an atmosphere I had to train myself to thrive in. Whenever I felt stressed or overwhelmed by a deadline, I would take deep breaths and reflect on whether I needed to ask for help. Most often, I found that I just needed a moment to clear my mind before returning to my tasks with confidence.'
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