Behavioural Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

While a CV shares an account of the candidate’s relevant skills, qualifications and personal history, the information included is often not enough to make a recruitment decision. Asking behavioural questions during an interview uncovers qualities such as work style, habits and interpersonal skills that can help you make a decision. These questions give you the opportunity to get a better understanding of how the candidate will react in certain circumstances.

 

Asking behavioural questions allows the candidate to demonstrate their potential to succeed in the job. They illustrate how they successfully handled a situation based on experience and give you insight into their thought processes.

 

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What are behavioural interview questions?

Behaviour interview questions are questions that prompt candidates to discuss their past behaviours. Their answers provide you with clues about how they will behave in similar situations when working for your company, allowing you to determine if they possess the specific qualities needed for your position.

 

Asking behavioural questions will also show you a candidate’s consistency in answers, if the candidate is prepared and if the candidate can describe situations in a relevant way. Since they are anecdotal in nature, behavioural interview questions use the STAR format. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. 

 

Implement STAR questions to see how the candidate behaved in real-world situations, understand their value proposition and define various work activities. Develop STAR questions, such as, “Tell me about a time you missed a deadline, how you handled it and what was the outcome?”

 

10 behavioural interview questions

Here are 10 examples of common behavioural interview questions and why they’re essential to help you gather the in-depth information you need for your recruitment process:

 

1. Tell me about a time you made a mistake affecting a customer and how you resolved the issue.

With this question, you can learn about a candidate’s customer relationship management skills, how they deal with mistakes, problem-solve, display humility and accept accountability. The answer should demonstrate a customer service focus, interpersonal skills and critical thinking under pressure. Find out what they learned and what they’ve done to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

 

2. Give me an instance of when you had a conflict with one of your team members and how you handled it.

When a team is working under pressure, differing opinions and work disputes may occur. This question assesses the candidate’s conflict-management skills, flexibility and humility. The candidate should reveal self-management skills, interpersonal skills, good temperament and professionalism when dealing with conflict.

 

3. Tell me about a task where you had to develop a new skill and how you approached the learning process.

This question assesses a candidate’s ability to adapt to challenges and a willingness to take advantage of learning and growth opportunities. Employees should recognize the rewards of skill development. This question allows them to demonstrate how they react to tasks they are not skilled at and explain the strategy they use to gain experience. 

 

4. Think about a time when you went the extra mile when the minimum amount of work would have been acceptable. Why did you make an effort, and what was the outcome?

This question gives you insight into the ‘why’ behind the candidate’s drive and initiative. You can determine if this was a one-time event or if it’s an ongoing trait. For instance, was it a team-driven effort for the company’s greater good or their personal preparation for a promotion? The candidate’s story should reveal qualities such as selflessness, teamwork and integrity.

 

5. Describe a situation where you made a tough decision that usually would have gone to your supervisor, how you handled it and the outcome.

This question provides an insight into the candidate’s decisiveness and confidence. The result of the situation determines the quality of the candidate’s decision-making and problem-solving skills. Look for confidence, decisiveness and analysis of the decision.

 

6. Think about a time in your recent position where you were out of energy. Tell me what was going on, how you responded and what the outcome was.

The value of this question is to help you determine if there’s a good company culture fit. For instance, if the candidate was exhausted from communicating with clients and prefers to work alone, building customer relationships is not the job for them. Asking this question also helps you determine if they are equipped to work in various stressful conditions, how they resolve problems when fatigued and under pressure and what strategy they have to overcome these conditions.

 

7. Tell me about a time you had too much to do and not enough resources. Describe how you overcame the deficit and achieved your goals.

With this question, you can evaluate the candidate’s response to pressure and problem-solving skills. It further reveals the quality of their decision-making and communication skills. It also outlines their ability to work with limited resources. Their answer may also demonstrate negotiating skills and lateral thinking.

 

8. Talk about a time you felt defeated and how you responded to the adversity.

This question reveals how self-motivated the candidate can be when they don’t feel in control, or the job gets tough. Examples could be a project facing difficulties, missing deadlines or having an idea rejected. Look for answers about how they stepped forward and took on the challenges of a difficult situation. The candidate may have internalised the situation, changed tactics, brainstormed with a colleague or looked for a better way to renew the concept.

 

9. Describe an occasion when you had to manage your time to complete a task. How did you do it?

This question lets the candidate focus on their time management skills, setting priorities, organisational strategies and any tools used for tracking deadlines.

 

10. Describe an occasion where you failed at something. What did you learn?

This is a common behavioural interview question that assesses the candidate’s integrity and response to failure. The response should include humility, problem-solving skills, decisiveness and strategies to move forward. Look for the candidate to discuss weaknesses and how they plan to overcome them.

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