08 Nov Behavioral questions: what are they and how should you respond
6 ways to answer behavioral questions
Behavioral interview questions are a technique used by companies to make sure that an applicant has the necessary skills and abilities to succeed in that role. These questions focus on past behavior unlike situational questions.
Whether you’re interviewing for entry-level roles or more senior positions, it’s likely your interview will include these types of questions.
They’re becoming increasingly popular as more research shows them to be a reliable way of identifying suitable candidates. But if you aren’t used to them yet, you may be wondering what they are and what they mean.
What are behavioral questions?
Behavioral job interview questions are designed to discover how a candidate will respond in real-world situations. The interviewer won’t be looking for generic answers, but instead use questions that uncover specifics about how the candidate handled past challenges or responsibilities.
They are meant to get you talking about your past experiences, what you learned from those experiences and how you might react if faced with those challenges again.
These kinds of questions like, “give an example of when you solved a problem”, give the interviewer insight into how the candidate will handle tasks and responsibilities should they be hired.
Tips for answering behavioral questions:
- Know the types of behavioral questions that might be asked.
- Be prepared to talk about a specific experience.
- Use specific examples and if possible make them quantifiable.
- Be sure to keep your anecdotes relevant and interesting.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
How to respond to “Tell me about a time you failed”
Employers use this question to see how a candidate responds to adversity. A candidate doesn’t have to share a personal failure but instead can discuss a time when they made a mistake at work and what they learned from that mistake.
Companies are looking for candidates who can talk about their mistakes without getting defensive or ending the interview.
So how do you answer this question?:
- Try to frame the situation as a learning experience and discuss how you would handle similar situations in the future.
- Mention what you would do differently the next time if given the chance.
- Remember that candidates who can talk about their mistakes in a non-defensive manner are more likely to be hired.
How to respond to “Tell me about a time you helped build something”
This question gives candidates the chance to talk about their initiative. It’s important for candidates to mention that they weren’t just following orders but were actively coming up with creative ideas and suggestions.
Employers will want to see that the candidate is capable of taking initiative and that they are active contributors to their team.
Here’s how to ace this question:
- Talk about the successes you’ve had during your career and the role you played in those accomplishments.
- Bring up the challenges you faced along the way and how you overcame them.
- Be sure to mention any contributions you made to the company, whether big or small.
How to respond to “Give an example of when you solved a problem”
This question is designed to discover if the candidates can think critically and find solutions to problems. Employers want to see how you approach problems and if you’re able to find solutions.
Use these tips to impress recruiters during this question:
- Share the problems you faced at work or in school, and how you were able to find a solution.
- Discuss the steps you took to solve the problem and what you learned from that experience.
- Talk about the positive outcome of your actions.
How to respond to “Can you give an example of when you had to work with a team?”
This question gives candidates the chance to talk about their experiences working with teams. Companies want to see if you’re willing to work with others and if you’re a team player.
Answer this question in three parts:
- Share what you were able to achieve with your team and the role that you played to help them succeed.
- Talk about how you overcame any challenges.
- Mention what you learned while working with teams.
Behavioral questions are made to discover how you’ll respond in real-world situations. The interviewer won’t be looking for generic answers, but instead will want to know how you’ve reacted to situations in the past.
So make sure you’re honest but focus on what the interviewer wants to know: how you overcame problems, what you learned, and how you helped the company succeed.
💡Job interviews can be stressful and you might not know how to answer certain questions. Instead of staying speechless or saying “I don’t know”, find out essential tips to prepare and ace the interview. Read more here →