10 performance-based interview questions with sample answers

Updated 18 September 2023

Recruiters and hiring managers use performance-based interview questions to identify candidates' work experience and skills and to see how they apply these in the workplace. Such questions can help recruiters decide how committed and motivated you are to your job. Familiarising yourself with these questions and their sample answers can help you prepare thoroughly for an interview and boost your confidence. In this article, we discuss some performance-based interview questions, outline some sample answers and provide interview tips to help you get the job.

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Performance-based interview questions with sample answers

Consider using the STAR method to answer performance-based interview questions: this framework helps you describe the situation, task, action and results. Here are some questions an interviewer may ask you:

1. Can you describe your experience working in a team to accomplish a task?

Sometimes tasks may require a combined effort to accomplish them. An interviewer may use this question to evaluate your interpersonal, communication and teamwork skills. Provide an answer that shows you understand the value of teamwork in an organisation, are comfortable working in a team and are ready to learn from your colleagues.

Example: 'In my previous role as a web developer, I often had to work within a team on client projects. Collaboration between front-end and back-end engineers was essential to producing a working software or application. Before beginning the project, I would meet with all team members so we could get to know each other better. Familiarising myself with the team members allowed me to understand each person's personality and strengths and how to apply them in the project.'

2. How do you handle conflict in the workplace?

Conflicts and misunderstandings in the workplace sometimes arise, and it is essential for a hiring manager to employ people with good interpersonal skills who handle such scenarios professionally. This question can help a hiring manager determine your problem-solving and interpersonal skills. You can answer this question by giving an example of a time you came into conflict with a colleague and how you resolved it.

Example: 'In my previous role as a supervisor, I led a sales management team in launching a new product for the company. I allocated duties to each member, but two of them always came in late and missed deadlines, which slowed the team's progress. I tried confronting them to understand the reason for the delays, but they became defensive. To resolve this problem, I reallocated duties and gave them mainly online roles, so they could work from wherever they were and had less strict deadlines. Doing this resolved the delays and we successfully launched the new product.'

Related: What are conflict resolution skills? Definition and examples

3. Can you tell me about a time you made your manager aware of an uncomfortable situation?

A hiring manager may use this question to assess your capability to voice your opinions. You can use your answer to show the interviewer your commitment to creating a comfortable working environment. Consider using an example showing your method of approaching uncomfortable issues.

Example: 'While working in a social media management team previously, one member was not thorough with their work, which increased the workload for the rest of the team and slowed down progress. I approached my supervisor about the issue and emphasised that I didn't want my colleague to get into trouble. My supervisor appreciated the feedback and reassigned roles to ensure everyone was comfortable and able to carry out their duties effectively.'

Related: Identifying and improving a hostile work environment

4. Do you have an example of a career goal you set for yourself and how you achieved it?

An interviewer can use this question to understand your commitment to growth in your career. You can answer it by first outlining your goal and then explaining how you achieved it. You can also mention some challenges you faced during your journey and how you overcame them.

Example: 'After working for five years, I wanted to go back to school and do a master's course to advance my career. I resigned from my permanent job and got a part-time job to give me time to study. I struggled to balance work and school sometimes but switching to online classes helped solve this issue before I graduated.'

Related: Goal-setting templates (and when to use them)

5. Can you describe an instance when you had to explain a challenging concept to a client, and how did you ensure they understood?

Working with clients may involve selling your ideas and explaining unfamiliar concepts to them. This question can help an interviewer assess your communication skills. Answering it with an example of how you explained a complex concept to a client and asked for feedback to ensure they understood may impress the interviewer.

Example: 'In my previous role as a stockbroker, I often had to explain difficult concepts regarding the stock market to potential clients. I start by explaining market terms they're unfamiliar with and use relevant examples and pictures when necessary. I ask for feedback on anything that needs further clarification to ensure they understand the concepts.'

Related: What are communication skills?

6. How do you delegate responsibilities in your current position?

An interviewer can use this question to assess your capability to share work with others and the quality of your leadership skills. This question often arises with managerial positions. Provide details of the criteria you use to allocate work.

Example: 'As a manager, it's my responsibility to assign duties to other employees based on their interests, personalities and capabilities. I meet informally with them to better understand more about them. These meetings allow me to establish their strengths and weaknesses, which helps me allocate duties effectively.'

Related: Leadership definitions (qualities and how to improve)

7. Can you tell me about a time when you had many projects to complete simultaneously with strict deadlines?

A hiring manager may use this question to establish your time-management skills. They can also use it to assess your ability to work under pressure. Consider providing an answer that highlights your organisational skills and how you prioritise your tasks.

Example: 'In my previous role at an insurance company, I often met with several clients daily. In this job, it was important to plan out my day and divide up my time to allow for my client meetings and office work. By scheduling carefully, I allocated time for these appointments and accomplished my office-based tasks.'

Related: Time-management skills: definition, examples and tips for improvement

8. What is your greatest weakness and how do you work to overcome it?

This question may help the hiring manager determine if the candidate is aware of their strengths and weaknesses. It can also assess the candidate's willingness to learn and grow. Consider providing an answer that explains your weakness and the steps you take towards improving.

Example: 'My previous role involved giving boardroom presentations to share new ideas for the company. My supervisor gave me some feedback that I could improve the way I expressed myself and how I articulated my ideas. To improve, I started practising speaking in front of a group of friends and continued to ask for feedback from my supervisor. I also found a mentor in the workplace who guided me on how to improve my communication skills.'

9. Can you tell me about a mistake you made and what you did to correct it?

An employer can use this question to assess your honesty and integrity. They can also use this question to determine your adaptability to changes in the work environment. Consider owning up to your mistake and showing transparency when answering this question.

Example: 'In my previous role as a writer, I wrote an article that did not follow the keyword rules given by the client, which resulted in them rejecting my work. I admitted my mistake and informed my supervisor about it. I also made time outside my usual working hours to redo the article following the client's rules.'

Related: What are adaptability skills and how can they benefit you?

10. Have you worked in an environment that was constantly changing, and how did you handle it?

Such a question can help a hiring manager determine your versatility and flexibility at work. You can answer this question by showing the interviewer that you're open to and capable of quickly adapting to change. Such an answer may impress the interviewer and increase your chances of getting the job.

Example: 'My previous role as a freelance consultant allowed me to explore working outside the usual hours. I received many jobs from clients around the world in different time zones. This required me to adapt my working schedules constantly and even work over weekends to get the job done.'

Performance-based interview tips

Below are some interview tips to help you get the job:

  • Research the job description: Researching the job description may help you understand the responsibilities required for the position you're applying for. You can use online resources such as the company website or social media platforms.

  • Practise answering questions: You can hold a mock interview with your friends to help you practise answering questions. Consider using verbal and non-verbal skills to express your answers.

  • Prepare questions: Consider researching the company's goals to help you prepare some questions. Asking relevant questions may demonstrate to the interviewer your interest in working with the organisation.

Disclaimer: The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.

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