Why bother spending so much time developing a job description, posting the job opening, and sorting through resumes to find the best candidates if you don’t intend to ask what many experts consider the strongest type of interview questions: behavioral interview questions?
While traditional interview questions, such as Tell me about yourself and Why do you want to work here?, are commonly asked across all job interviews, to get the most – and best – information from candidates, you should consider dedicating at least half of the interview to behavioral questions.
What are behavioral questions? Questions that delve deeper into the practical experiences of job candidates and that seek to understand how their past workplace actions and motivations will inform their future behavior, performance, and potential for success. Behavioral questions typically begin with, Tell me about a time when… or Describe a time when.
Unlike traditional interview questions and aptitude tests, behavioral questions really press candidates to provide honest responses and divulge their true character. Psychologists also believe that as most workplace behavior does not change over the course of an adult’s life, interviewers can assume that the way a candidate has responded to past circumstances will be the way they respond to future situations.
What’s more, because behavioral interview questions demand that candidates detail authentic real-world interactions, it becomes easier for interviewers to assess cultural fit. For example, if an interviewee is pushed to shed some light on how they convinced a department to change a practice they always used, you might learn whether they’re pushy, assertive, diplomatic, research-driven, and more. On the flip side, if you tried to address this with a traditional interview question, it leaves room for the candidate to simply tell you what you want to hear.
Getting the Most From Behavioral Interview Questions
Before you initiate any interviews, you should identify 5 to 8 behaviors critical to the job you’re filling. Determine the ideal responses you seek. Once you begin interviewing candidates, try to ask each one the same set of questions so that you’ll be able to easily identify the candidate that best matches the profile for success.
Depending on the job you’re hiring for, you might ask key behavioral interviewing questions around communications, teamwork, leadership, analytical skills, work coping, multi-tasking, dependability, client/sales management, and conflict resolution.
27 Common Behavioral Interview Questions
- Tell me about a time when you had difficulty making a presentation.
- Give me an example of your process when having to address your ideas in writing.
- Provide me with a time when you had to persuade a co-worker.
- Describe a situation when you were able to diffuse an angry co-worker/client/customer.
- Give me an example of how you explained a complex situation so that everyone grasped what you were explaining.
- Talk about a time when communications broke down and the person you were talking with misunderstood you.
- Tell me about a time when you had a major conflict with a team member – and how it was resolved.
- Give me an example of one of your best team working experiences.
- Provide me with examples of how you handled working with someone who is very different than you.
- Tell me about a time when you had to persuade someone to provide you with key information/expertise/processes in order to get your job done.
- Tell me about your best experience in leading a department/team/division/company.
- Describe how you inspire and led a group of dissatisfied workers.
- Provide me with an example of a time when your leadership skills failed you.
- Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a subordinate – and how you handled it.
- Provide me with an idea of how you recognize and reward high-performing employees.
- Tell me about the best idea that you came up with for motivating employees. How did you apply it – and how successful was it?
- Tell me about a time when you missed a deadline for a project/assignment.
- Give me an example of how you juggle multiple deadlines.
- Provide me with an overview of how you handle change, including a specific example from your experience.
- Tell me about a time when you were forced to think on your feet.
- Give me an idea of how you deal with failure.
- Describe a long-range project that you worked on/managed – and how you handled multiple assignments and deadlines.
- Tell me about a time when you identified a problem/situation and took initiative to solve it.
- Talk about a time when you were under a heavy workload. How did you handle it?
- Give me an idea of the first week or so of your current job. What steps did you take and how long was it before you were up to speed and making a contribution?
- Tell me about a time when you made a suggestion to improve the quality/quantity of the work in your last organization.