7 Sample Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers
By Jamie Birt
Updated June 16, 2022 | Published December 12, 2019
Updated June 16, 2022
Published December 12, 2019
Jamie Birt is a career coach with 5+ years of experience helping job seekers navigate the job search through one-to-one coaching, webinars and events. She’s motivated by the mission to help people find fulfillment and belonging in their careers.
Related: How To Prepare for a Behavioral Interview
In this video, you'll learn how to prepare for behavioral interview questions by creating a clear story your interviewers can follow.
During a job interview, you are likely to be asked behavioral interview questions that explore the way you handled a situation in the past and indicate how you might handle a similar situation in the future. You can review common types of behavioral interview questions to ensure you prepare effective answers.
In this article, we review some sample behavioral interview questions, provide example responses and give you the strongest answering method to help you make a good impression on your prospective employer.
What are behavioral interview questions?
Behavioral interview questions are interview questions that assess your actions and reactions in a given professional setting or situation. They often help employers determine your skills and qualities, such as problem-solving, customer service, critical thinking and communication.
The most effective answers to these questions are structured with the STAR format:
Situation: Describe a situation in your work experience pertinent to the question.
Task: What was your task in this situation?
Action: What action did you take to address the situation?
Result: What was the outcome of your action?
Related: How To Use the Star Method To Answer Behavioral Interview Questions
In this video, Jenn explains the STAR Method and how to use it to answer behavioral interview questions.
Sample behavioral interview questions and answers
Here are some common behavioral interview questions and sample responses. Discover what purpose each serves and what skills and qualities they test. Use these to craft your effective answers using the STAR method:
1. Give me an example of a time you had a conflict with a team member. How did you handle it?
This question is likely to come up during an interview for a position in a team environment. It aims to assess your conflict-management skills and determine how you value your coworkers. In your answer, consider discussing a time when you and a coworker disagreed on how to solve a problem or faced personal differences.
Example: “At LabCorp Inc., my team was responsible for a project with a short deadline. I had one view of how it should be accomplished, which seemed to have support within the team. However, one person disagreed and was causing tension as a result. I knew for us to complete the project in time, I had to find a way to bring this person on board. So I took him to lunch, talked with him one-on-one, and tried to understand his point of view.
I managed to find a compromise that we could take to the rest of the team. It was not exactly what he wanted, but he said he would be OK with it. The team was agreeable, and we worked together to get the project done on time.”
2. Tell me about a time you made a mistake that affected a customer. How did you resolve the problem?
This question is for positions that involve client- or customer-facing roles. You can use this question to demonstrate your customer service, communication and critical thinking skills under pressure. You can also use it to showcase your integrity and ability to admit and correct your mistakes.
Example: “I was on the wait staff of Coppa’s Restaurant when a customer at one of my tables ordered our special salad. She said she did not want peanuts because she is allergic to them, but I neglected to inform the kitchen staff.
When I brought the dish out, thankfully, she saw the problem before she started eating. Naturally, she was very upset. As the waiter, it was my responsibility to satisfy the customer. I apologized to her and, to make up for my mistake, I did not charge for the salad but instead offered her a coupon toward her next meal, which she gladly accepted.”
3. Describe an occasion when you had to manage your time to complete a task. How did you do it?
This question can appear in interviews for a variety of roles. It’s your chance to highlight your time management skills. In your answer, be sure to discuss elements such as your organization's strategies and the tools you use to stay on task and track deadlines.
Example: “Broad Idea Magazine ran a jumbo-sized special edition every quarter. My editor needed three 2,000-word stories from me for the quarter’s upcoming special edition. Due to various production delays beyond my control, I had only two weeks to write them. I cleared my schedule as much as possible and blocked time on my calendar over the next two weeks for research, writing and editing. Disciplining my time like this helped me complete the stories three days ahead of schedule.”
4. Describe an occasion when you failed at something. What did you learn?
This is another very common behavioral interview question that assesses your integrity. It’s also a chance to discuss your potential weaknesses and how you plan or have begun to improve upon them.
Example: “At Bright Star Shipping, we had the opportunity to bid for a multi-million dollar contract. My team was tasked with putting together a sales presentation. We had a week to prepare it, but we allowed other projects to take up our time. As a result, we ended up rushing to complete the presentation, and it showed. There were typos in the text, the graphics looked amateurish and there were even some factual errors. The client was not impressed, and we lost the contract.
After that experience, we all learned to better prioritize projects, and try to have other work re-assigned when we need to focus attention on one thing.”
5. Tell me about a time you went beyond the call of duty. Why did you do this, and what happened?
With this commonly asked question, you can describe a specific instance when you stepped up to help another coworker, your team, a supervisor or a client or customer. This example can allow you to demonstrate your dedication to your role and your team and organization’s success. Also, it showcases qualities such as integrity, selflessness and teamwork.
Example: “Last summer, senior executives of H.B. Bank visited our regional office. In preparation, our management asked my team to put together a report along with spreadsheets and a slide presentation to show our performance over the last 12 months.
One of our team members who was tasked with creating the spreadsheets took ill the week before and was unable to complete the work. My manager said he would do it, but he had already been staying late at the office finishing projects before the visit.
So I volunteered to work on the spreadsheets in addition to the other tasks I was doing. It meant some late nights, but I got them done. The visit with senior management went well. They were impressed with the materials we provided. My manager publicly commended my dedication and thanked me for putting in the extra effort.”
6. Describe a time when you had to motivate coworkers.
This question is likely to come up in an interview for a leadership position, such as a supervisor, manager, shift leader or project manager. Use this question to demonstrate leadership skills related to motivation and your strategies to promote productivity and success on a team.
Example: “We went through a merger at Yan, Inc. last year that lowered morale for some teams. Our group had new management that gave us responsibilities with which we had little experience. I noticed a dip in our overall productivity and felt I had to do something to improve our perspective on the situation.
So I called a meeting and encouraged the team to embrace the learning opportunities and see this as career development. We went around the room and listed one positive thing that came from this experience individually. The mood lifted after that, and the positive energy translated into better productivity and engagement.”
7. Describe a time when you had to do something you weren't trained to do. How did you handle it?
This question assesses your ability to adapt to challenges and take advantage of learning opportunities. You can use your answer to demonstrate how you react to being given tasks with which you have little or no experience and how you transform the challenge into a chance to grow as a professional.
Example: “I had been at PhiBeta Software as a Visual Basic developer for four years when the company decided to switch over to using Java. Most of my fellow developers had Java or related skills and could easily make the switch. I, however, had only ever learned VB and COBOL.
On reflection, I could have quit and looked for another job, but I liked working at PhiBeta and the people I worked with were very supportive. Plus, PhiBeta was a small company and did not have the resources to offer training. So I proactively enrolled in a Java class at the local community college, bought some books, and before long, I was able to help our team convert our existing code base to Java.”
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