How To Answer Behavioral Interview Questions

Getting a phone call or an email notifying you of an interview schedule is a big moment. It means that of the resumes sent by hundreds of job applicants, the recruiter found yours impressive enough to qualify for an interview with the Hiring Manager.

A job interview isn’t an in-person validation of the information shared in your resume. The Hiring Manager wants to know more about you; specifically how you perform on the job under certain situations.

Thus, if the resume shone the spotlight on your technical or hard skills, the job interview will focus on your soft skills – the behavioral attributes that best describe how you perform on the job.

Your soft skills will be uncovered by the Hiring Manager with the use of behavioral interview questions.

What Are Behavioral Interview Questions?

Behavioral interview questions are intended to place the candidate into situations that require him to explain how his soft skills enabled him to navigate through various challenges and come up with the best solutions.

The Hiring Manager’s questions might ask you to relive a particular experience you had at work or put you into hypothetical situations to gauge your thought process when deciding on a course of action.

Why Do Hiring Managers Ask Behavioral Interview Questions?

A day in the office can be unpredictable. Situations can arise in the workplace that throws a curveball at the day’s activities and potentially affect your performance. Unless these situations are handled properly, they can become full-blown problems.

Your responses to behavioral interview questions will help the Hiring Manager understand how you deal with stress, pressure, anxieties, and moments of tension as well as how these types of situations affect your performance at the office.

An experienced HR professional can take one behavioral interview question and run off a series of other relevant questions to get more in-depth information on how you manage the day-to-day challenges that can happen at work.

The interviewer can get a snapshot of how you approach potential problems and how you interact/collaborate with your co-employees, supervisors, and customers. Based on your answers to these behavioral interview questions, the Hiring Manager can assess if you’re a good fit for the company.

How To Answer Behavioral Interview Questions

It’s not difficult to respond to behavioral interview questions because you already know the answers. You lived through these experiences. Many of these incidents helped shape you into who you are today and simply can’t be forgotten.

The challenge for you is to present your answers to these questions in the most professional and polished manner so that you can create an indelible impression on the job interviewer.

A simple but effective approach to answering behavioral interview questions is the STAR method:

  • Situation – The specific experience or incident that transpired;
  • Task – The particular duty or mandated responsibility you were required to do;
  • Action – The course of action you took in order to resolve the situation;
  • Result – The outcome of your course of action and how it helped your company.

Let’s apply the STAR method to a popular behavioral question.

“What was the biggest challenge you encountered in the office and how did you handle it?”

The STAR Method:

Situation:

“I was working as the Restaurant Manager for Charlie’s Grindhouse when the rotisserie oven broke down. It happened Sunday morning and we knew it was going to be a busy day especially for lunch when we average around 500 whole roasted chickens. We couldn’t afford not to serve roasted chicken because that was the second most popular item on our menu.”

Task:

“We had 550 chickens that were waiting to be cooked and we didn’t have a backup rotisserie oven to use. The only pieces of cooking equipment we had were a charbroiler, a fryer, and a convection oven. The cooking time per 1.5kg whole chicken was 45 minutes.”

Action:

“I had the cooking schedule distributed as follows – 45 minutes in the convection oven then have whole chickens cut into halves, covered in foil, transferred, and cooked under the charbroiler’s salamander rack for another 15-20 minutes to ensure doneness. Since the convection oven could handle 100 whole chickens at one time, we started cooking them at 9:00 am. The chickens that came out of the oven at 9:45 am would be cooked under the charbroiler at 10:30 am.”

Result:

“We had 300 cooked chickens available for the lunchtime crowd from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. The remaining 200 chickens were cooked from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm. Our chickens came out hot and juicy and the customers were happy. We had the rotisserie oven running by Tuesday.”

3 Examples Of Behavioral Interview Questions

Here are 3 behavioral interview questions that are commonly asked by Hiring Managers.

Each of these questions is asked to see how you perform under different situations. Although we are providing you with the sample responses, try to come up with your own answers using the STAR method.

Behavioral Interview Question No. 1:

“Conflicts frequently happen between co-workers or co-members of a team. Can you share an example of a conflict you had with a co-worker and how you resolved it?”

A Hiring Manager will ask this question to determine how you perform in a group environment or function in a department. Those who are applying for positions in sales, research, production, and software design whereby collaboration with other skills is necessary should prepare to answer this question.

Answer:

“Our company was in the process of bidding for a construction project. I was part of the research department and we were tasked to draw up the bid documents. In addition to the market research, feasibility study, proposed timeline, financial study, and manpower complement, we were required by the client to submit a schedule detailing the rundown of our proposed budget.

“We were 2 weeks away from the deadline. The documents were 90% completed except for the financial schedule – the draft of which had not been submitted by the person assigned to it. We were given assurances that the schedule would be submitted on set dates but these timelines were never met for one reason or the other.

“I decided to invite this person for a meeting and get to the bottom of the situation. As it turned out, his wife was dealing with medical issues and he could not attend to the financial schedule. He was overextended in cash advances and was spending time raising money to pay for his wife’s hospital bills.

“The first thing I did was to get him an assistant who acted as our point person and then established tight timelines for submissions. Then, I arranged for a special company loan consideration and asked HR to attend to the hospitalization bills of his wife.

“We were able to complete the bid documents in time. Thankfully, our company was awarded the project. But what I’m most thankful for was being there to assist a co-worker and help him overcome a family crisis.”

Behavioral Interview Question No. 2:

“How do you manage your time whenever you find yourself squeezing through tight deadlines?”

Companies value time because the more productive the employees the more successful the business. Hiring managers prioritize candidates who are self-aware of the importance of having time management skills.

Answer:

“As a real estate agent, my calendar is always booked on a daily basis. From responding to calls and online inquiries to following up with warm leads, to meeting up with buyers and sellers, to expanding my leads list, on most days 24 hours doesn’t seem to be enough.

“If I’m not productive, I lose opportunities for my company to generate revenues and for me to earn commissions.

“Thus, the first thing I do is to plan my day the night before. I list down the top 3 things that I have to attend to the following day including my action plans for each. Next, I update my Calendar app on my mobile to make sure I get reminders of other tasks that I need to do. Lastly, I send out reminders to people who I’m scheduled to meet the following day just to confirm the agenda.

“As a result of my courses of action, I don’t feel stressed out, I avoid the guesswork, and I’m able to remain productive every day at work. That’s how I’m able to capitalize on opportunities and sell properties for my company on a consistent basis.”

Behavioral Interview Question No. 3:

“Share an experience when you were tasked to do something you weren’t trained to do. How did you approach the situation and complete the task?”

The Hiring Manager wants to know how you accept challenges. Do you run away from them or do you embrace challenges as opportunities to prove your true worth?

Some employees will roll their eyes when asked to do tasks that are outside their scope of work. Others will smirk and say, “Sure! Bring it on!” These tasks aren’t meant to burden you. They’re meant to see what you’re made of.

Answer:

“I worked as a Front-End Developer for Myriad Technologies Corporation. I was part of a team that designed and developed apps for mobile devices with the iOS platform. A year into my job, the company acquired a massive project for a client that needed apps that run using the Android platform.

“The first app was scheduled for delivery in 10 months. I had no background or training in developing apps for the Android Operating System. Everyone else on the team – the Back-end Developers, Software Architects, and Web Developers – were all trained and educated in Android software design.

“However, I didn’t want to let the team down. I enjoyed our teamwork and cherished my camaraderie with everyone. I told them about my situation – including the Project Manager – and what I planned to do.

“Since the project was 10 months away, I took certification courses in Android OS design for the first 3 months just to develop a solid understanding of its system. It didn’t detract from my work because the first stage of app development doesn’t have much difference regardless of the platform used.

“Our Project Manager, Software Architect, and a few members of the Front-End development team guided me along the way. It was a potential problem that eventually turned into a wonderful, On-the-Job learning experience. We were able to meet the deadline and submit the first Android-based app to the client.”

Conclusion

Having to answer behavioral interview questions is like having a conversation with a person you just met at an event. However, instead of asking you what your favorite movie is, the person will ask you questions related to your conduct at work.

Because you know these answers by heart, just answer them honestly and sincerely. When practicing your responses, identify actual experiences in your career that best represent who you are when facing work-related situations.

Discover other  job interview questions and how to answer  them

Felix T. Web

I founded ResumeOK in 2011 to help people increase their chances of getting a better job. I am a career expert that has reviewed and written thousands of resumes. During my career, I found patterns that make a resume successful. Together with our team, we are sharing insights and knowledge in our resume examples and career articles. Do you have a question or need help? Just contact us here.

Last Updated on December 12, 2022 by Felix T. Web