What are behavioral questions?

Behavioral questions

  • Help the interviewer understand how you reacted in an actual situation.
  • Require you to respond with a specific example
  • Are based on the concept that future behavior is best predicted by past behavior
  • Are asked with a specific purpose in mind

The question, “Describe a situation when you had a conflict with a colleague and how you handled that conflict,” is evaluating your interpersonal/communication skills.

Behavioral questions are likely to begin with phrases like

  • Give me an example of a time when you…
  • Describe a situation where you…

Typical questions, and the behaviors they address, include the following:

  • Communication: we’ve all had occasions when we misinterpreted something that someone told us, like a due date or complicated instructions.  Give me an example of when this happened to you, why it happened, and how you rectified the situation.
  • Conflict management: describe a disagreement with a supervisor, how it evolved, and how you resolved it.
  • Decision-making: give me an example of a situation in which you made up your mind too rapidly, and how that affected the outcome of the situation.
  • Judgment or ethics: everyone has to bend or break the rules sometimes. Describe an example when you broke the rules, why you did, and what came of it.
  • Planning/organization: describe a situation where you assumed responsibility for getting something fairly complicated or important done and how you went about it.
  • Persistence: describe a time when you encountered an obstacle that you could not overcome and how you handled the situation.
  • Teamwork: describe an experience when you were part of a team, the part you played on the team, and how you handled team members who were not contributing.
  • Transferable skills: describe your strengths (usually 3) and specific ways that you have utilized them. Identify a weakness and how you’ve countered or worked around it successfully.

The S.T.A.R. technique can help you answer behavioral questions