How to Respond to Behavioral Questions in an Interview

behavioral questionsWhen you’re preparing for an interview there are hundreds of questions to anticipate. And that includes difficult to answer, behavioral  questions.

As you know, it can be incredibly stressful to narrow down which questions like this are likely to be asked. How you should answer them is also a challenge.

But there is an easier way to prepare for your next job interview.

All behavioral questions asked in an interview have something in common. And each is an opportunity to craft a perfect answer every time.

What Are Behavioral Questions?

Behavioral questions are questions about your past job performance and how you behaved under certain circumstances. These questions often begin with phrases like “Tell me about a time…” and “Can you share an example of…” and they focus on different skills for different jobs, such as time management, communication, adaptability, teamwork, and protocol.

Behavioral interview questions aren’t always a negative thing. Sure, many of them will address a challenging or difficult situation. That is the intent. Because the hiring manager wants to understand how you work under pressure.

Why Do Interviewers Ask Behavioral Questions?

Are hiring managers trying to torture you? Definitely not. While these questions can be uncomfortable to answer, there really is a purpose to asking them. They are a great opportunity for an interviewer to understand if you’re someone who learns from mistakes. More important, if you recovers from them quickly. Will you become more self-aware? As a result of what you learned, will you be more sensitive to your surroundings?

How Should You Answer Behavioral Questions?

We’ve addressed how to answer behavioral interview questions briefly in the past. But it’s worth digging a little deeper. After all, you want to make sure you craft an answer that you can tweak for any behavioral interview question.

The best way to answer this kind of question is to familiarize yourself with the STAR Method. This stands for Situation/Task, Action, and Result. You should address these parts of a story in order organizes your answer in a way that answers the behavioral question, It also gives the interviewer a polished look at how you recover from surprises at work.

An Example

Here’s a brief look at how this might take shape with a story about failure:

  • Situation/Task | My manager launched a new website product offering for our clients, and our team was very excited about it. As a junior salesman, my manager set a sales goal of 15 new clients per month. Unfortunately, I failed to meet that goal.
  • Action | My biggest issue at that time was being too shy to follow up on leads. I had very strong ideas about who I was supposed to sell to and how I would meet my sales goals.
  • Result | I decided to speak with my manager about this block. He recommended several excellent books on sales by Zig Ziglar. I read them all and formed a close mentor relationship with my manager. With his coaching, I exceeded that sales goal within 90 days. As a result, I’ve had a lot more confidence in selling and making relationships with prospective clients.

As you can see, this method is short and sweet and allows you to craft your response for different questions as they come up. This question happened to be about failure. The same format (and possibly the same situation), however, could be tweaked to answer other behavioral questions. So they may ask about a mistake you made, a difficult customer situation you handled, and more.

How do you approach behavioral questions during your interviews? Do the answers come easily to you? Or do you have more practicing to do?


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Simply Hired.


Simply Hired



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