Behavioral Interviews

Behavioral interview questions are important for employers to ask for a very good reason: your behavior in the past has a pretty good chance of appearing again in the future under similar circumstances.

If you remained cool under pressure during a group project in the past, you'll probably react the same way if the company hires you and you have a tight deadline to keep.

STAR Technique

One strategy for preparing for behavioral interviews is to use the STAR Technique, as outlined below. (This is often referred to as the SAR and PAR techniques as well.)

Situation or Task

Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand. This situation can be from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.

Action You Took

Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did -- not the efforts of the team. Don't tell what you might do—tell what you did.

Results You Achieved

What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?

Sample Questions

Adaptability

  • Tell me about a situation in which you have had to adjust to changes over which you had no control. How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to adjust to a classmate's or colleague's working style in order to complete a project or achieve your objectives.
  • How was your transition from high school to college? Did you face any particular problems? How did you handle them?

Analytical Skills/Problem Solving

  • Describe the project or situation that best demonstrates your analytical abilities. What was your role?
  • Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem. What did you do? What was your thought process? What was the outcome? What do you wish you had done differently?
  • What steps do you follow to study a problem before making a decision? Why?

Communication

  • Have you ever had to sell an idea to your classmates or coworkers? How did you do it? Did they accept your idea?
  • Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa). How did you handle the situation? What obstacles or difficulties did you face? How did you deal with them?

Creativity

  • Tell me about a problem that you've solved in a unique or unusual way. What was the outcome? Were you happy or satisfied with it?
  • Give me an example of when someone brought you a new idea that was odd or unusual. What did you do?

Decision Making

  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision without all the information you needed. How did you handle it? Why? Were you happy with the outcome?
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision. What obstacles did you face? What did you do?
  • What is the most difficult decision you've had to make? How did you arrive at your decision? What was the result?

Goal Setting

  • Give me an example of an important goal which you have set and tell me how you reached it. What steps did you take? What obstacles did you encounter? How did you overcome the obstacles?
  • Tell me about a goal that you set that you did not reach. What steps did you take? What obstacles did you encounter? How did it make you feel?

Initiative Slider

  • Describe a project or idea (not necessarily your own) that was implemented primarily because of your efforts. What was your role? What was the outcome?
  • Describe a situation in which you recognized a potential problem as an opportunity. What did you do? What was the result? What do you wish you had done differently?
  • Tell me about a project you initiated. What did you do? Why? What was the outcome? Were you happy with the result?
  • What was the best idea you came up with during your professional or college career? How did you apply it?

Integrity/Honesty Slider

  • Discuss a time when your integrity was challenged. How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time when you experienced a loss for doing what is right. How did you react?

Interpersonal Skills

  • Describe a situation where you found yourself dealing with someone who didn't like you. How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work on a team with someone you did not get along with. What happened?
  • Describe a situation where you had a conflict with another individual, and how you dealt with it. What was the outcome? How did you feel about it?

Leadership

  • Tell me about a team project when you had to take the lead or take charge of the project? What did you do? How did you do it? What was the result?
  • What is the toughest group that you have had to get cooperation from? What were the obstacles? How did you handle the situation? What were the reactions of the group members? What was the end result?

Planning and Organization/Time Management

  • Describe a situation that required you to do a number of things at the same time. How did you handle it? What was the result?
  • How do you prioritize projects and tasks when scheduling your time? Give me some examples.

Teamwork

  • Tell me about a time when you worked with a classmate or colleague who was not doing their share of the work. How did you handle it?
  • Describe a situation in which you had to arrive at a compromise or help others to compromise. What was your role? What steps did you take? What was the result?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work on a team that did not get along. What happened? What role did you take? What was the result?

Follow-Up Questions

  • What steps did you take?
  • What action did you take?
  • What happened after that?
  • What did you say?
  • How did he/she react?
  • How did you handle that?
  • What was your reaction?
  • How did you feel about that?
  • What was the outcome/result?
  • Were you happy with that outcome/result?
  • What do you wish you had done differently?
  • What did you learn from that?
  • How did you resolve that?
  • What was the outcome of that?
  • Why did you decide to do that?
  • What was your logic?
  • What was your reasoning?
  • Where were you when this happened?
  • What time was it?
  • Who else was involved?
  • Tell me more about your interaction with that person.
  • What was your role?
  • What obstacles did you face?
  • What were you thinking at that point?
  • Lead me through your decision process.
  • How did you prepare for that?
  • Why?
  • How?
  • When?
  • Where?