Answering Behavioral Job Interview Questions

If you’ve ever been to a job interview you’ve probably had a “describe a prior situation” type of question in which the interviewer asks you to describe a scenario you faced either in life or while at your previous position.  While the question may seem a bit open ended or vague, it turns out that asking about other situations you’ve faced is a great way to gauge how you’ll react in the new role.

These “behavior” based job interview questions can give your potential new employer valuable insight into your “soft skills”.  Dealing with stressful situations, prioritization skills, management style and flexibility are all just some of the qualities that behavior questions can help shed light on.  And since behavior questions ask for a description of a factual experience they tend to be more honest and straightforward in helping evaluate your character and qualifications.

It’s important to note that behavioral interview questions typically require in depth responses . Employers aren’t looking for simple answers to behavior questions.  A solid, tried and true method for discussing interview topics in this vein is to first pinpoint and describe the situation or task that you had to tackle.  Next, describe in detail both your physical acts and thought process behind your action.  Finally, wrap things up with a tidy description of the outcome.  Bonus points for throwing it what you would have changed or done better or what you learned from the scenario.

Like most interview topics, the best way to answer behavioral questions is to be prepared. There’s certain common behavior questions that interviewers like to ask.  The below, or some variation thereof, are potential behavior questions to keep in mind before going on your next interview.

  • Describe a situation in which you had to [prioritize, schedule, manage etc]
  • Describe your most stressful work situation to date (be sure to address what it taught you)
  • How do you normally decide when to call in management for assistance or backup?
  • How do you manage others and what has been your most difficult management task?

These are just a few of the behavioral questions you might face, but we think you get the gist.  Consider the skills needed in the job you’re applying for and spend time anticipating potential behavioral questions to ace the interview and land the position of your dreams.

Updated July 11, 2017