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10 Common Behavioural Interview Questions and Answers

Published October 06, 2020 (last updated October 8, 2020) Author: Employsure
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What Are Behavioural Interview Questions?

Behavioural interview questions are questions commonly asked in job interviews, which are designed to tap into the candidate’s past experience to understand how they approach and respond to various situations.

Behavioural interview questions require candidates to share information about how they have behaved in a previous scenario, and typically start with ‘tell me about a time when…’.

Why Employers Should Ask Behavioural Questions

Compared to unstructured interview questions, behavioural interview questions have been shown to provide interviewers with richer information which is more predictive of their future job performance than an unstructured interview.

Using behavioural questions in an interview can help employers understand how and why candidates have previously behaved in various scenarios. Previous behaviour is a strong predictor of future performance, meaning that the answers given can help an employer understand how well a candidate is likely to perform in the role to be filled.

Behavioural questions therefore help employers understand if a candidate is likely to meet the capability and soft skill requirements of the role.

Behavioural questions can also help compare candidates to choose the best fit for the role. If the same question is asked of all candidates, it is easier to compare responses, compared to if different questions are asked of different candidates.

10 Common Behavioural Interview Questions and Sample Answers

Tell me about a time when…

Problem Solving

1.    You had to come up with a new solution to a problem

This question allows you to tap into whether the candidate can show initiative day-to-day in their role, and how creatively they can identify ways to solve a problem.

Follow up questions:

  • How did you come up with the solution?
  • What other options did you have? Why didn’t you choose those?
  • What was the outcome?

2.    You made a mistake

This question allows you to assess taking ownership for mistakes, and whether the candidate has resilience to be able to dust themselves off and move forward afterwards.

Follow up questions:

  • Whose fault was it?
  • How did you correct it?
  • What did you learn from the situation?

3.    You were faced with an unexpected challenge

This question helps you understand how adaptable the candidate is and whether they can cope well with change or challenges that are thrown their way.

Follow up questions:

  • How did you overcome the challenge?
  • What did you learn from the situation?

Communication Skills

4.    You had to give someone constructive feedback

This question will help you assess whether the candidate is comfortable having difficult conversations, but also whether they can do so tactfully.

Follow up questions:

  • How did you deliver the feedback?
  • How did they respond to the feedback?
  • Did they change their behaviour after receiving the feedback?

5.    You disagreed with someone on a way to solve a problem

This will help you identify how the candidate manages conflict, and how cooperative they are in solving problems

Follow up questions:

  • What decision did you eventually make on how to solve the problem?
  • How did you make the decision?
  • What was the outcome?

6.    You had to display a high level of attention to detail in completing a task

This question will help you assess whether someone has a good eye for detail, and what methods or strategies they use to ensure their work is of a high quality.

Follow up questions:

  • What method(s) did you use to focus your attention on the detail?
  • Did you miss anything?
  • What was the outcome?

Teamwork

7.    You had to lead a team or take the lead on a project

This question can help you assess leadership skills, and see how comfortable the candidate is in a leadership position

Follow up questions:

  • How did you find taking the lead?
  • How did your team react to your leadership style?
  • What was the outcome?

8.    You had to work as part of a team to complete a task

This question can allow you to explore how well the candidate works alongside others.

Follow up questions

  • What was your role in the team?
  • How well did you work together? Why?
  • What was the outcome?

9.    You had to delegate work to others

This is another great question if you are looking to assess leadership capabilities. Good delegation requires a mix of strong communication skills, motivational skills, and the ability to empower others.

Follow up questions:

  • How did you explain what needed to be done?
  • Did you encounter any issues?
  • What was the outcome?

Time Management

10. You had to work towards a tight deadline

This allows you to assess ability to work towards a goal, under pressure.

Follow up questions

  • How did you manage your time to meet the deadline?
  • What was the outcome?

11. You had two or more competing priorities

This allows you to assess whether someone can juggle multiple responsibilities or priorities at once, it can also be a way of assessing how comfortable they are with pushing back in situations where they need to prioritise one thing over another.

Follow up questions:

  • How did you manage your time?
  • Did you have to push back on either priority?
  • What was the outcome?

The S.T.A.R. Method – A Behavioural Interview Technique

The S.T.A.R. Method is a framework that can be used to provide structure to behavioural questions and answers. It can be used by interviewers and candidates alike to ensure the candidate provides rich responses to behavioural questions.

The S.T.A.R. method comprises four steps in explaining a previous experience:

  • Situation: An explanation of the context, for example what was the problem to be solved.
  • Task: Outline of the task that needed to be completed in responding to the situation.
  • Action: What action was taken to respond to the situation and achieve the task at hand. Candidates should ensure that they cover off what they personally did in the situation.
  • Result: What the outcome was of the action taken. If possible, to include quantifiable outcomes – e.g. were you able to save money or reduce incidents as a result?

An example of the S.T.A.R. method in action:

Interviewer:
Tell me about a time that you had to give someone constructive feedback.

  • Situation: What was the situation?
  • Task: What was feedback you needed to give?
  • Action: How did you give the feedback?
  • Result: What was the outcome?

Candidate:

  • Situation: A member of my team completed a piece of work that was full of spelling and grammatical mistakes – it was clear that they hadn’t proofread it and had not taken care before sending it to me.
  • Task: I wanted to provide them with the feedback so that they would take more care the next time and proofread their own work before sending it to me.
  • Action: I found an appropriate time and place and stated that I wanted to share some feedback on the recent piece of work. I shared the issues that I had found, and explained the impact it had on my time. I stated I knew they were capable of higher quality work, and suggested they spend more time proofreading next time before sending to me.
  • Result: My team member agreed that they rushed the work and that they are capable of more. We agreed that they would take more care next time. Since then there has been a significant increase in the quality of their work, and saving me time in reviewing.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the Benefits of Behavioural Interviewing?

    Using behavioural questions in an interview can help employers understand how and why candidates have previously behaved in various scenarios. 

    Behavioural questions therefore help employers understand if a candidate is likely to meet the capability and soft skill requirements of the role.

    Behavioural questions can also help compare candidates to choose the best fit for the role. If the same question is asked of all candidates, it is easier to compare responses, compared to if different questions are asked of different candidates.

  • What is a Behavioural Interview Question?

    Behavioural interview questions are questions commonly asked in job interviews, which are designed to tap into the candidate’s past experience to understand how they approach and respond to various situations.

    Behavioural interview questions require candidates to share information about how they have behaved in a previous scenario, and typically start with ‘tell me about a time when.’

  • How Do I Prepare For A Behavioural Interview?

    Consider what capabilities and soft skills are important for the role you are hiring for and prepare interview questions that will help you assess those capabilities.

    For example, if you are hiring a receptionist, prepare behavioural questions about their previous customer service experience or ability to multitask (e.g. ‘Tell me about a time you have had to provide exceptional customer service’, and ‘Tell me about a time you have had to manage multiple priorities at once.’)

    As a candidate, if you are preparing for a behavioural interview, consider the common behavioural interview questions as well as the required capabilities advertised in the role description, and prepare some examples of your previous experience that show how you have behaved in similar situations.

    In preparing to respond to behavioural interview questions, use the S.T.A.R. technique.

  • When Do Interviewers Ask Behavioural Questions?

    Behavioural questions are common in all interviews. They are used to tap into the candidate’s past experience to understand how they approach and respond to various situations.

  • How Do You Evaluate A Behavioural Interview?

    • Consider the capabilities and skills required in the role
    • Consider how well the candidate demonstrated those skills in their responses
    • Compare candidates by reviewing which provided the strongest demonstration of those skills through their responses
    • Also consider how clearly they explained their examples. This is also a way of assessing how candidates think and communicate
  • What is the Difference Between Situational And Behavioural Interview Questions?

    Situation interview questions provide candidates with a hypothetical situation to respond to, whereas behavioural interview questions ask how candidates have behaved in the past.

    Situational interview questions often begin with ‘what would you do if…’ whereas behavioural interview questions often begin with ‘tell me about a time when…’.

  • Are Behavioural Interview Questions Effective?

    Yes, research has shown that behavioural interview questions can be strong predictors of future performance if asked correctly and are better than unstructured interviews.

  • What Are Some Unique Interview Questions?

    • Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work. What happened and why? What did you do to correct the mistake? What was the outcome?
    • Tell me about a time you disagreed with someone on a way to solve a problem. How did you reach a solution?
    • Tell me about a time when you were faced with an unexpected challenge? What happened and how did you overcome it?
    • Tell me about a time when you had to work as part of a team to complete a task
  • What Is The Star Method When Interviewing?

    The S.T.A.R. Method is a framework that can be used to provide structure to Behavioural Questions and answers. It can be used by interviewers and candidates alike to ensure the candidate provides rich responses to Behavioural Questions.

    The S.T.A.R. method comprises four steps in explaining a previous experience:

    • Situation: An explanation of the context, for example what was the problem to be solved.
    • Task: Outline of the task to be completed in responding to the situation.
    • Action: What action was taken to respond to the situation and achieve the task at hand.
    • Result: What the outcome was of the action taken.

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