How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions [+ Dos & Don’ts]

behavioral interview question tips
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In addition to the questions about work experience, most interviewers will also ask you several behavioral interview questions (a.k.a BDI or BBI interviews). These behavior-based interviews are non-technical and focus on how you react and behave in a professional setting. Thus, hiring managers can get a much better understanding of you as an employee.  

Keep in mind that behavioral interview questions are different from situational ones. BBI interviews require you to share concrete examples of difficulties or situations you have dealt with in the past. Situational-based interview questions, on the other hand, are designed to see how you would behave in a hypothetical situation. 

What Is a Behavioral Question?

Let’s dig deeper into the concept of this interview technique! 

Behavioral job interview questions are generally concerned with a specific situation in the past, inquiring about the following information:

  • How did you react or responded to that issue
  • What action did you take to handle that 
  • What result did you achieve eventually 

Oftentimes, interviewers prefer to ask these kinds of questions in order to assess how you conduct yourself in a professional environment and what your skill level is. Therefore, your answers to these behavioral interview questions demonstrate your strengths, skills, and abilities as an employee. 

How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions

The secret of performing well in behavior-based interviews is knowing how to address STAR behavioral questions. The STAR technique for interviews allows you to provide a clear, concise, and specific response by using real-life examples. 

Below are the key 4 elements in the STAR methodology for interviews

  • SITUATION - the context of an event, problem, or challenge you encountered at work
  • TASK -  the tasks and responsibilities you were in charge of in the last position
  • ACTION - the steps you took in that context to resolve the issue
  • RESULT -  the outcome of your actions

Further reading:  STAR Interview Method: Definition, Tips, and Examples

Dos and Don’ts for Answering Behavioral Interview Questions

✅ 5 Dos: 

#Dos 1: Think before answering to show your prudence. 

Especially for STAR behavioral questions, you need some time to recall the memory and arrange your points logically. However, make sure you don't pause for more than 60 seconds before giving your answer.

#Dos 2: Walk the interviewer through your process of thinking.

Your response to the behavioral interview questions should present your thought process behind a difficult choice or in a tough situation, including how critical thinking skills are applied to determine your options and find the right solution. The interviewer can, thus, understand you better and make a more accurate assessment of your strength.

#Dos 3: Organize your ideas, which demonstrates your critical thinking skills.

It means that all the points in your answer should be laid out in a logical and well-structured way. 

#Dos 4: Keep your answer brief, less than 2 minutes long.

In order to do this, you need to review both the required qualifications and your skills carefully before the interview. 

#Dos 5: Ask for clarification if you’re not clear about the question.

Below are some polite ways to ask the recruiter or hiring manager to repeat their questions:

  • Excuse me, could you please repeat that?
  • Excuse me, would you mind repeating that last question please?
  • Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that, can you ask again, please?

❌ 5 Don’ts: 

#Don’ts 1: Don’t say “I can’t think of any” even though you don’t know how to respond. Instead, stay calm, professional, and try saying something like: 

“That’s an interesting question. Could you please give me a few minutes to think it over?”

#Don’ts 2: Don’t lie or make things up, which could give you a bad reputation in that company and potentially the industry you want to work in.

Keep in mind that the employer will figure it out if you were lying eventually once you start training and working for them.

#Don’ts 3: Don’t talk about irrelevant things such as:

  • Relationship woes
  • Financial status
  • Family plans
  • Political affiliation
  • Religion

Even though sometimes the interview you're going to have is a lot more casual than other interviews, the golden rule is to keep the conversation strictly professional and straight to the point.

#Don’ts 4: Don’t ramble, if you don't want it to reflect that you're not good at handling stressful situations.

Sometimes, the hiring manager may ask you behavioral-based interview questions about how you perform under pressure. If you say you work well under stress but constantly ramble during the interview, it will show you up.

#Don’ts 5: Don’t mention too much about other people.

Instead, focus on your own ideas, actions, and achievements. That way, you can fully convey your skills, abilities, and contribute to the team.  

Behavioral Interview Question Examples

In this part, you will find examples of behavioral interview questions with answers for 10 different roles and professions. These will help you prepare for a behavioral interview better. 

💡 Nursing Behavioral Interview Question and Answer

Q: Being a nurse means you have to look after a lot of patients at the same time. What have you done to deal with stress at work?

A: As a registered nurse having almost 9 years of experience, I totally understand the high-stress nature of my work. I make sure I get enough sleep, eat healthy food, and exercise regularly to maintain my physical and mental health. That way, I can ensure I’ll be there to help patients and families for years to come. 

There was a time when 30 victims who got severe food poisoning were rushed to the ER ward late at night. The hospital was not running at full capacity, and I had to rally everybody who knew how to manage such inflammation. It was a tough time for all of us, but we pulled through smoothly.

💡 Software Engineer Behavioral Interview Question and Answer

Q: Explain a situation when you disagreed with a coworker.  

A: In my last role at MasTech, one of my team members suggested a method of coding for our new project. After checking it out, I found it a bit risky and inefficient. In that situation, I had a meeting with him where we each laid out our plans for the project and the coding method we found most practical and effective. After the discussion, we both understood each other’s concerns and decided to bring our suggestions to the rest of the team, asking for their opinions. That experience has taught me well how to come to a mutual decision as a group.

💡 Consulting Behavioral Interview Question and Answer

Q: Please share a time when you had to work with multiple clients at the same time. Could you manage this situation well? 

A: Last summer, I had to work with four different clients at the same time. In this situation, I not only assured them that they were a priority, but also managed their expectations about my availability due to other job responsibilities. To organize and prioritize my task for each client efficiently, I used a project management tool for both my computer and cellphone. I also set up a regular online meeting with each of them to reassure them that their projects were all on track. These allowed me to track my progress and any deadlines I need to meet, ensuring that I fulfill my clients' needs.

💡 Project Manager Behavioral Interview Question and Answer

Q: Have you ever had a project that did not meet the deadline? How did you deal with it?

A: Earlier this year, I was working on a software development project with a client. As they suddenly requested to add a certain feature to their customized software, we might have missed the deadline. As the project manager, I met with my team to estimate how much time we would need to add the feature and complete the software. After that, I presented my client with the new plan. They agreed on a later deadline and were happy with the outcome in the end.

💡 Call Center Behavioral Interview Question and Answer

Q: Give me an example of a time when you successfully resolved a problem in the call center. 

A: Last Christmas, when I was working as a call center representative at Vile Hotels & Resorts, I had to deal with a difficult customer on the phone. She was a guest at our resort and did not feel happy with her stay. 

The very first thing I did is make a sincere apology for her unsatisfactory experience and tell her that I would report all the issues to the higher-ups. Next, I gave her a discount for her next stay and asked for her home address to send her a gift basket. I was told by the receptionist that she likes our hotel's sweets. 

After 30 minutes of talking, she felt better and decided to delete the bad review she had written on our Facebook page. 

💡 Data Analyst Behavioral Interview Question and Answer

Q: Tell me about the most difficult data analysis project that you’ve ever handled. How did you get over it? 

A: The most difficult project was on traffic fatalities. My tasks were to estimate how many traffic facilities would be built in the next 10 years and figure out what factors would influence them. 

This project was very challenging because I couldn’t access the state-level crash fatality records for each year within the last decade. So, I researched the current situation and any relevant data that I could find, and did my predictions. 

💡 Finance Behavioral Interview Question and Answer

Q: Have you ever failed to do a sales report accurately? 

A: During the 5 years of working as a financial analyst, that never happened to me. I would say I have found the best way to produce accurate financial reports, which is to enlist the help of industry-designed software tools. I'm most familiar with Qvinci and Balanced Scorecard to evaluate a company's current financial situation before analyzing more specific areas.

💡 Accounting Behavioral Interview Question and Answer

Q: What's the biggest mistake you've ever made at work? 

A: That happened when I had to prepare a client's tax return but I didn’t include his tax-exempt interest. As a result, he earned more than we had estimated. According to federal law, we needed to file an amended tax return otherwise we would risk being audited or penalized. As soon as I realized it, I immediately corrected this oversight by preparing an amended tax return reflecting tax-exempt interest. My client understood the situation and was still satisfied with the service eventually. 

💡 Teamwork Behavioral Interview Question and Answer

Q: Can you tell me about a time you had to work with someone completely different from you?

A: I always enjoy working with new people even though there might be some differences or conflicts sometimes. At Vietcetera, I once worked with a particularly young graphic designer on a new podcast channel. 

I was in charge of ideation and content creation, as well as ensuring the quality of social media graphics. As he never worked in the creative industry before, he didn’t know a lot about the strategies we used.

Every day I tried to teach him something about the industry and the company in general, and we also spent some time going over the top popular podcast channels at the moment together. In the end, he surprised me by how much of a fast learner he was and our project was well-received by both the company and the audience. 

💡 Leadership Behavioral interview Question and Answer

Q: Describe an instance where you had to perform a task that you had no previous experience with before.

A: In my previous position at iStyle Beauty Clinic, my manager asked for a one-month leave due to her medical condition. The director asked me to fill in as the interim manager. I was first quite uncertain and unconfident since I hadn’t been trained to be a manager yet. 

Despite that, I decided to take on a new challenge. The first thing I did was to gather the team and inform them of the situation. Especially, I was very open about my lack of experience and expected them to be open about giving feedback when possible, too. I performed managerial duties, such as delegating work, motivating employees, planning team building activities, with the help of the director in the first week. 

As a result, we managed to get through the month without any problems, and my boss commended me for doing a great job. I was then promoted to manager at the end of that year.

With Cake’s resume builder tool, resume templates and resume examples, you could showcase your best qualifications to land your dream job. Try making a resume online (free download) now!

--- Originally written by May Luong ---

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