Career Planning Finding a Job Interview Strategies Behavioral Interview Questions and Sample Answers By Alison Doyle Alison Doyle Facebook Twitter Website Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts and has counseled both students and corporations on hiring practices. She has given hundreds of interviews on the topic for outlets including The New York Times, BBC News, and LinkedIn. Alison founded CareerToolBelt.com and has been an expert in the field for more than 20 years. learn about our editorial policies Updated on September 14, 2022 In This Article View All In This Article What Are Behavioral Interview Questions? Why Employers Ask Behavioral Questions Behavioral Interview Questions and Sample Answers More Behavioral Interview Questions How To Prepare for a Behavioral Interview Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: PhotoAlto / Eric Audras / Getty Images During a job interview, it is likely that you will be asked behavioral interview questions. What are behavioral job interview questions, and what’s the best way to answer them? Behavioral interview questions are designed to give hiring managers insight into your behavior and personality, and to learn how you would handle work-related situations. Find out more about this type of interview question and review the most common behavioral interview questions employers ask. Plus, get tips on how to prepare and respond smoothly when you’re asked to give examples of how you handle workplace situations. Key Takeaways Interviewers ask behavioral interview questions because your response gives them a good sense of how you'll perform if you're hired. The more you know about the role, industry, and company, the better you'll be able to emphasize your most relevant qualifications and experience, so take the time to do your research. To ace your response, come prepared with examples and stories to share. What Are Behavioral Interview Questions? Behavioral job interview techniques are used by all types of companies. Unlike traditional job interview questions that ask you to describe what you did in a role or to share qualifications, these questions seek concrete examples of skills and experiences that relate directly to the position. Why Employers Ask Behavioral Questions Behavioral questions are designed to learn how you would respond to a specific workplace situation, and how you solve problems to achieve a successful outcome. Note Behavioral interview questions are generally formatted by presenting a situation, inquiring about what action you have taken to respond to something similar in the past, and what the result was. The interviewer will ask how you handled a situation, and you will need to respond with an explanation of what you did. The logic is that your success in the past is a positive indicator of your success in the future. 1:37 Essential Tips for Answering Top Behavioral Questions Behavioral Interview Questions and Sample Answers Here are some common behavioral interview questions you may be asked during a job interview. Review the sample responses and consider how you would answer the questions, so you'll be prepared to give a strong answer. As you can see from the sample responses, it's important to be ready with specific examples and anecdotes. While you don't need to memorize answers, have a sense of what experiences you would share and how to describe them to the interviewer. You'll want your examples to be both clear and succinct. 1. Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure. What They Want to Know: If you’re being considered for a high-stress job, the interviewer will want to know how well you can work under pressure. Give a real example of how you’ve dealt with pressure when you respond. Example Answer I had been working on a key project that was scheduled for delivery to the client in 60 days. My supervisor came to me and said that we needed to speed it up and be ready in 45 days, while keeping our other projects on time. I made it into a challenge for my staff, and we effectively added just a few hours to each of our schedules and got the job done in 42 days by sharing the workload. Of course, I had a great group of people to work with, but I think that my effective allocation of tasks was a major component that contributed to the success of the project. 2. How do you handle a challenge? Give an example. What They Want to Know: Regardless of your job, things may go wrong, and it won’t always be business as usual. With this type of question, the hiring manager wants to know how you will react in a difficult situation. Focus on how you resolved a challenging situation when you respond. Consider sharing a step-by-step outline of what you did and why it worked. Example Answer One time, my supervisor needed to leave town unexpectedly, and we were in the middle of complicated negotiations with a new sponsor. I was tasked with putting together a PowerPoint presentation just from the notes he had left, and some briefing from his manager. My presentation was successful. We got the sponsorship, and the management team even recommended me for an award. 3. Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it? What They Want to Know: Nobody is perfect, and we all make mistakes. The interviewer is more interested in how you handled it when you made an error, rather than in the fact that it happened. Example Answer I once misquoted the fees for a particular type of membership to the club where I worked. I explained my mistake to my supervisor, who appreciated my coming to him, and my honesty. He told me to offer to waive the application fee for the new member. The member joined the club despite my mistake, my supervisor was understanding, and although I felt bad that I had made a mistake, I learned to pay close attention to the details so I can give accurate information in the future. Note When you're answering interview questions about mistakes, keep the focus on what you did after the mistake to fix the situation (or ensure it wouldn't be repeated). Plus, make sure to namecheck mistakes that are minor, and wouldn't cause an interviewer to think twice about you as a candidate. 4. Give an example of how you set goals. What They Want to Know: With this question, the interviewer wants to know how well you plan and set goals for what you want to accomplish. The easiest way to respond is to share examples of successful goal setting. Example Answer Within a few weeks of beginning my first job as a sales associate in a department store, I knew that I wanted to be in the fashion industry. I decided that I would work my way up to department manager, and at that point, I would have enough money saved to be able to attend design school full-time. I did just that, and I even landed my first job through an internship I completed the summer before graduation. 5. Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it. What They Want to Know: The hiring manager is interested in learning what you do to achieve your goals, and the steps you take to accomplish them. Example Answer When I started working for XYZ Company, I wanted to achieve the Employee of the Month title. It was a motivational challenge, and not all the employees took it that seriously, but I really wanted that parking spot, and my picture on the wall. I went out of my way to be helpful to my colleagues, supervisors, and customers—which I would have done anyway. I liked the job and the people I worked with. The third month I was there, I got the honor. It was good to achieve my goal, and I ended up moving into a managerial position there quickly, I think because of my positive attitude and perseverance. 6. Describe a decision you made that wasn't popular, and explain how you handled implementing it. What They Want to Know: Sometimes, management must make difficult decisions, and not all employees are happy when a new policy is put in place. If you’re interviewing for a decision-making role, the interviewer will want to know your process for implementing change. Example Answer Once, I inherited a group of employees when their supervisor relocated to another city. They had been allowed to cover each other’s shifts without management approval. I didn’t like the inconsistencies, where certain people were being given more opportunities than others. I introduced a policy where I had my assistant approve all staffing changes, to make sure that everyone who wanted extra hours and was available at certain times could be utilized. 7. Give an example of how you worked on a team. What They Want to Know: Many jobs require working as part of a team. In interviews for those roles, the hiring manager will want to know how well you work with others and cooperate with other team members. Example Answer During my last semester in college, I worked as part of a research team in the History department. The professor leading the project was writing a book on the development of language in Europe in the Middle Ages. We were each assigned different sectors to focus on, and I suggested that we meet independently before our weekly meeting with the professor to discuss our progress and help each other out if we were having any difficulties. The professor really appreciated the way we worked together, and it helped to streamline his research as well. He was ready to start on his final copy months ahead of schedule because of the work we helped him with. Note Highlight key teamwork skills (like communication) in your answer to interview questions about teamwork. Avoid critiques of teammates even if you're explicitly asked about situations where collaboration was a struggle. 8. What do you do if you disagree with someone at work? What They Want to Know: With this question, the interviewer is seeking insight into how you handle issues at work. Focus on how you’ve solved a problem or compromised when there was a workplace disagreement. Example Answer A few years ago, I had a supervisor who wanted me to find ways to outsource most of the work we were doing in my department. I felt that my department was one where having the staff on the premises had a huge impact on our effectiveness and ability to relate to our clients. I presented a strong case to her, and she came up with a compromise plan. Note While questions about problems are around something negative, aim to keep your tone and response positive. Look for ways to describe how you handled the problem. 9. Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers. What They Want to Know: Do you have strong motivational skills? What strategies do you use to motivate your team? The hiring manager is looking for a concrete example of your ability to motivate others. Example Answer I was in a situation once where the management of our department was taken over by employees with experience in a totally different industry, in an effort to maximize profits over service. Many of my co-workers were resistant to the sweeping changes that were being made, but I immediately recognized some of the benefits, and was able to motivate my colleagues to give the new process a chance to succeed. 10. Have you handled a difficult situation? How? What They Want to Know: Can you handle difficult situations at work, or do you not deal with them well? The employer will want to know what you do when there’s a problem. Example Answer When I worked at ABC Global, it came to my attention that one of my employees had become addicted to painkillers prescribed after she had surgery. Her performance was being negatively impacted, and she needed to get some help. I spoke with her privately, and I helped her to arrange a weekend treatment program that was covered by her insurance. Fortunately, she was able to get her life back on track, and she received a promotion about six months later. More Behavioral Interview Questions Have you worked on multiple projects? How did you prioritize?How do you handle meeting tight deadlines?How do you handle it when your schedule is interrupted?What do you do if you disagree with a co-worker?Give me an example of when you did or when you didn't listen.What do you do if you disagree with your boss?How do you handle it when there's a conflict among team members?What is your most important career accomplishment? Why? How To Prepare for a Behavioral Interview Learn as much as you can about the company and the role. The more you know about the job and the company, the easier it will be to respond to interview questions. Take the time to research the company prior to your interview, and review the job posting, so you’re as familiar as possible with the role. Match your qualifications to the job. To help you prepare for a behavioral interview, review the job requirements, and make a list of the behavioral skills that you have that closely match them. Here's how to match your qualifications to the job. Make a list of examples. Interviewers develop questions to determine how successful a candidate will be, given the specific tasks of the job. Obviously, you want to present your experiences as clearly as you can, using real examples, and highlighting situations where you were successful. Note Learn how to use the STAR interview technique to give well thought out and complete answers. Be ready to share a story. You may be asked variations of the questions listed above, but if you prepare some stories to share with the interviewer, you’ll be able to readily respond. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) What type of question is asked during a behavioral interview? During a behavioral interview, you'll be presented with a possible situation, then asked how you have responded to similar situations in the past. This situation might be a challenging project, disagreeing with a colleague, prioritizing multiple projects, and so on. What are employers looking for in a behavioral interview? For interviewers, your responses to behavioral questions supply concrete evidence about your skills and on-the-job behavior. This can help them predict how you'll perform in the role at hand. Employers will be looking for candidates who can demonstrate the skills needed in the role, and give a clear, succinct response. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. CareerOneStop. “Types of Interviews.” SHRM. "Job Interview Questions."