Image courtesy of Christina on Unsplash.
First off, it seems like you have an interview coming up so congratulations! Now that you’re in the process of preparing for the interview, you may be expecting a behavioral interview question.
We’re going to start this thread of advice with what exactly behavioral interview questions are.
Defining Behavioral Interview Questions
Behavioral interview questions put you in hypothetical situations that could happen in a workplace to see how you would respond.
This is both a great way for your potential employer to see if you have the right instincts when it comes to office behavior. The flip side of that though is that it gives you a great opportunity to convey the type of person you want them to know that you are.
Some of these questions can definitely stump the uninitiated, but by the end of this article, we’re confident that you will be able to handle most all behavioral interview questions.
While answering these questions is important, there are some other things we want you to know before going into that interview you’re so excited for. This additional advice will help us lay a general groundwork for how most employers want you to act during an interview.
This first one is a gimme - you have to be on time. By on time, we mean at least 10 minutes early if you’ll be in a waiting room, and if you’re meeting in a coffee shop or something comparable, about 5 minutes early.
Being on time is the first part of a first impression and proves to your potential employer that you can be relied upon to show up on time to work.
Our next tip also takes place even before the interview - turn your phone off and any other electronic that could possibly distract you from what you’re doing. We even suggest not wearing smartwatches as a part of this tip.
The last thing general tip for before the interview is to dress appropriately. If you’re meeting in an office, business casual is the way to go, and if you’re meeting at a restaurant or coffee shop, business casual is still usually preferred.
If the restaurant you’re going to is very high class, dress according to that. But otherwise, avoid the tuxes and ball gowns when you’re headed to the interview.
Once you walk into the area in which you will be interviewed, give a firm but not too squeezy handshake and have a sit only once you’re asked to have a seat.
Treat this like any other professional encounter, introduce yourself, don’t mumble, and speak as clearly as you can throughout the whole interview.
If you brought a bag with you or anything else that needs to be placed somewhere, putting it on the ground by your feet is the best choice. If the interviewer offers for you to put it somewhere else, then obviously you can accept.
Beyond this, body language during an interview is very important.
Good Body Language
This first tip is probably something that your mother or an annoying middle school teacher would say over and over again - sit up straight!
Yup, every time that one strict teacher told you to have good posture, they were really just trying to prepare you for the job interview you’d have 15 years down the line.
Don't sit so straight up that the interviewer thinks you’re uncomfortable, but definitely don’t slouch. When practicing by yourself for the interview, find that sweet spot where you’re sitting straight up but you still look comfortable.
Make sure that you’re making eye contact as with the interviewer as well. Don’t stare into their eyes for minutes on end unless you want to meet the security guards in the building; but do make sufficient eye contact.
When you’re asked a question and you have to think about the answer, it’s totally okay to look away and be pensive for a moment, but make sure that for the majority of your answers you’re making eye contact.
Look away when it feels right, but you want to be personable, and part of that is making good eye contact.
Try your best to be an active listener during the interview. The best way to make sure that the interviewer knows you’re being an active listener is to nod along when they are saying something.
Make it a very light nod and you don’t have to do it after everything that they say.
Much of this advice on body language is about finding a happy medium. That’s why we highly suggest that you first practice good body language by yourself, and then have a friend administer a mock interview.
When someone does that for you, give them a list of things to be aware of and they can give you a score on each of those aspects after you’re done with the mock interview.
After all, practice makes perfect.
Now we’re on to the good stuff - practice questions!
- Tell me about a time when you were only able to convey important information to a group of people through writing. What was it about and do you think you communicated effectively?
- What was the last presentation you gave that you’re really proud of and what was it about?
- Tell me about a time when you juggled multiple responsibilities and still managed to get everything done on time.
- Give me an example of a time that you had a feeling you weren’t going to be able to complete a task on time and how you dealt with that.
- Tell me about a time when you didn’t complete a task correctly and had to go back to square one on that task. How did you deal with that setback?
- Describe a time when you had many responsibilities to attend to but only a short amount of time. How did you go about organizing yourself to best succeed in that situation?
- Give me an example of a time that you had to work with someone who you didn’t get along with. How did you look past those issues and remain on task?
- Tell me about a time you worked in a group setting and took on the role of being the leader. How did that feel and what compelled you to take the lead?
- What strategies would you employ if you were trying to reach someone who was not being responsive?
- Tell me about a long-term project that you worked on. How did you ensure you were making good progress over a long period of time?
- What was the first job you had and what’s the most valuable thing you learned from that experience?
- How do you plan to accomplish your long term goals?
- Describe a time that you had an idea which was unpopular but ended up being the right decision. What made you stick to your initial thoughts and how did you deal with those who doubted you?
- Tell me about a time that you had to rally your co-workers when they weren’t necessarily feeling very motivated?
- Describe a situation where you disagreed with someone who had more authority than you and how you handled that.
- Tell me about a project that was difficult to complete but worth all the effort.
- Tell me about an idea that you had for a project that you are most proud of.
- Have you struggled to work in a team setting before? If you have, how did you manage to rectify those problems?
- What role do you naturally fall into when you are in a team setting?
- If tensions get high in a team work setting, how do you think things can be best handled to make sure that everyone stays respectful and productive?
- Tell me about what you’ve learned from your greatest professional failure?
- Describe a time when you had to finish a project on your own that was supposed to be a team project.
For all of these questions, keep your answers to ones that are related to work. Don’t go into any personal anecdotes about your life unless it’s really necessary to give context.
Also, be sure to stay as on topic as possible. Rambling through an explanation of a story that takes five more minutes than it should is not a good sign for an employer.
All in all, think of an answer to all of these behavioral interview questions, and we are sure that you’ll be prepared for any questions that your actual interviewer will throw at you. Part of this exercise is to give you a bag of stories and experiences to pull from that you can use to answer a plethora of questions.
Remember those answers and good luck at the interview!