Behavioral interview questions are usually focused on problem solving. Interviewers want to get a sense of what you are actually like on the job and how you would handle common scenarios you might find yourself in if you were hired for the position. They can be a crucial part of an interview, but they can also give you a chance to show off your thought process when it comes to solving problems and how you use your unique skills to handle any situation in the workplace. Here are some common behavioral interview questions and some strategies on how to answer them.
You’re more than likely to get some questions about challenges and how you handle them. Sometimes you might get a specific scenario regarding a challenge unique to the work you are interviewing for but other times you may get asked the more general “What is a time you handled a challenging situation” or “Tell me about a mistake you made and how you handled it.” No one is perfect and interviewers understand this, it’s okay to admit to having made mistakes in the past and if you get hired odds are you will eventually make some small mistake in your new position, but it’s important to let an interviewer know that you won’t have a meltdown if things don’t go your way. Even a small victory can be a good response to these types of questions.
“I had a co-worker get sick at the last minute before a presentation and I was able to pick up their slack and do it all myself.”
“My internet was spotty when I had a work from home meeting so I had to do it in a coffee shop but I was still able to constructively contribute.”
If you do admit to a mistake in this response, or they ask for an example of one, make sure to say how/what you learned from it and how you made sure it didn’t happen again.
“I sent an email to a client without getting approval from a superior and it caused some miscommunication, from this I learned that even though I was an experienced employee I still had to follow my companies protocols so ensure things are done properly.”
You may also get a question about how you handle internal conflicts with co-workers. This is another topic that is probably not on your resume and even speaking to a business reference may not give your prospective employer an idea of how you as a person are able to deal with an interpersonal conflict. Again, don’t be afraid to admit that you’ve had conflicts with coworkers, if you haven’t you haven’t, but they do happen and an employer will feel more comfortable hiring you if they know you can handle them. Any example of a time you successfully mediated a workplace conflict is a good response.
“I had a team member who was being overly aggressive and shooting down other people’s ideas without providing solutions. Instead of confronting them and adding more conflict, I quietly spoke to our manager and they handled the problem.”
If you don’t have an example where you personally handled a conflict you can always answer with one you observed.
“I once saw a superior pull aside a co-worker and speak to them calmly about their behavior. It showed me an example to follow if I was ever in that position.”
A lot of behavioral interview questions will revolve around goals. How do you set goals? How do you accomplish goals? How do you break down a large goal into smaller achievable steps? You don’t have to have a perfect strategy as long as you can show that you do have a strategy. Think of an example of when you achieved something and walk the interviewer through your process.
“I wanted to increase flow to our website by 50% in the first quarter of the year. So, I researched how other companies in my field had upped their user numbers and I saw a common thread was increased video usage in their social media campaigns. Using this research, I successfully convinced my superiors to slightly increase our media budget and was able to make some videos that successfully increased traffic to our website.”
Behavioral interview questions really should be seen as an opportunity to show a potential new boss some things that are not on your resume. To talk about your victories and how you handled your defeats. It’s another chance to sell yourself by showing that you can deal and have dealt with any situation that could arise in your new workplace.