What are the top behavioral interview questions?
Attending a job interview can be a stressful experience, so knowing what questions to expect is crucial if you want to be fully prepared.
This guide to behavioral interview questions will help you to think through the best answers relevant to your experience and help you land your dream job.
Top 25 Behavioral Interview Questions
We’ve covered a broad range of questions about how you handle motivation, teamwork, deadlines, and problem solving to make this a comprehensive resource for your next interview.
Here’s our list of the top 25 behavioral interview questions with sample answers:
25. Give me an example of when you used logic to solve a problem.
Interview questions are frequently designed to help better assess the candidate’s problem-solving skills, particularly their ability to use logic.
By demonstrating your ability to think on the fly and use logic when doing so, you show yourself to be capable of a coherent thought process in a challenging situation.
To deal with declining social media engagement on our company’s accounts, I conducted a competitor analysis to develop a new social media strategy.
By observing what our competitors did well and adapting it to our company’s core mission, I increased our social media engagement.
24. Describe a time when you saw a problem and took the initiative to correct it.
A hiring manager will ask behavioral interview questions that seek to understand how actively engaged the applicant is within their role.
As such, they will be looking for job seekers who avoid being passive instead of taking a proactive stance whenever problems arise.
While working on an important project for a former employee with a deadline approaching, I discovered one of our colleagues was called away on an emergency.
I suggested to my direct report that I stay and work overtime that evening to cover the work and make it a less stressful situation for my colleagues.
23. Tell me about a time an unexpected problem derailed your planning. How did you recover?
Hiring managers will frequently ask adaptability questions to gain a clearer insight into how the applicant responds to unexpected pressure.
Not everyone can switch up their planning on the fly, so giving specific examples of how you have managed to stay focused in these circumstances is essential.
It’s also an excellent opportunity to show more generally how you change your schedule for better productivity when problems need to be addressed.
While working in a restaurant, I discovered we had a shortage of certain ingredients necessary for some of the items on our menu.
After taking stock of our food inventory, I updated the menu with a new dish that utilized the food we had available to serve.
22. What do you do when your team member refuses to, or just can’t’ complete their part of the work? Give me an example.
A great employee is capable of working well with their co-workers, so expect to answer teamwork questions during a job interview.
Try to give a strong answer with concrete examples of instances when you have helped out a co-worker who has struggled with their workload and any tips when dealing with frustration you use.
Our team was asked to put together a sales presentation for the board of directors, but one colleague had failed to prepare their work.
I understood the need to give a good impression and knew the topic well, so I committed more time to work through my colleague’s section of the presentation.
21. Can you tell me about a time you gave a presentation that was particularly successful? Why do you think it went well?
The ability to deliver a great presentation demonstrates a range of abilities, including research, design, and communication skills.
Whether or not you’re asked this question during a job interview will depend on the specific job description for the role, but it is relevant be sure to have sample responses ready.
In my previous role, I was in charge of coordinating multiple projects across various departments, with various resources shared by these teams.
I delivered a presentation for a new system in which shared resources would be centrally coordinated by each team manager, visualizing the system in a way that made it easy to understand.
20. How do you handle irate customers? Give me an example.
At some point or another, most people have had to deal with an angry client who refuses to listen to reason.
Common behavioral interview questions will seek to gain an insight into your approach to dealing with a difficult client to assess your temperament.
There are a wide variety of ways you can deal with customer service complaints, so choose the best examples from your own experience when answering this question.
While working in a shop a client became irritable and impatient, claiming they had been waiting for far too long and demanding special treatment.
I apologized and assured the client that this wait was due to an issue out of our hands, offering them a complimentary drink and discount on their next purchase.
19. Tell me about a time when you successfully explained a technical problem to a colleague or a customer who didn’t’ have a tech background?
A hiring manager will sometimes ask questions to assess how capable you are of taking a complicated subject and simplifying it for a layman’s audience.
If you’re asked this question, give a specific instance of a time you effectively used simplified languages and analogies to explain something complicated.
A problem with the code for a company website meant that certain sections of the site were no longer working.
Instead of explaining the issue in detail, I focused on how it would impact visitors to the site directly and the time expected to take to resolve it.
18. Tell me about your first job in the industry. What did you do to learn the ropes?
Employers are most interested in hiring people who are capable of developing within a role and taking on new responsibilities.
Take this opportunity to demonstrate your willingness to learn, as well as to adapt to the expectations of a new job.
I started my role as a junior coder for a small games developer but was unfamiliar with some of the tools the team was using on their latest project.
As a result, I invested in an online course for the new programming language and got up to speed in my spare time.
17. Give me an example of when you had to suddenly perform under pressure. What happened, and how did you handle it?
Some behavioral interview questions are designed to see how you respond to stress, particularly if the job posting you’re applying for is likely to be intensive.
Your sample answer should reflect your ability to solve problems and keep a cool head when the pressure is high.
While working on an important project, I was asked to move up the schedule and complete the project to a new, strict deadline.
Consequently, I worked with my team to share the additional workload and prioritize projects so that the new deadline could be easily met.
16. Have you ever had to work under someone who wasn’t’ very good at communicating? What happened?
While some people are talkative and extroverted, others sometimes struggle to articulate what they are thinking in clear and precise terms.
If this question comes up at your next interview, share examples of how you have helped poor communicators get their message across.
This can be anything from sharing body language tips that will exude charisma to helping with how they express their opinions verbally.
A new employee at my previous company struggled to deliver a presentation, not because they hadn’t prepared but because they had difficulty with public speaking.
I sat them down and worked through the presentation in a one-on-one session to help give them the confidence they needed in the future.
15. What would you do if you misunderstood an important task on the job? Give me an example.
Common behavioral job interview questions are designed to understand how well the applicant deals with their mistakes or misunderstandings.
When answering behavioral interview questions like this one, demonstrate your ability to take ownership of misunderstandings while offering solutions.
After misunderstanding the content requirements for a specific project, I admitted my mistake and offered to work through my spare time to deliver the content as requested.
14. Can you describe an instance where your supervisor or manager just gave you too much work with not enough time? What did you do?
The ability to work under pressure is something hiring managers are keen to explore during an interview.
Answering this question is a good way to demonstrate your time management skills to your prospective new employer.
My previous manager asked me to complete a report but without the necessary time to accomplish the task.
Rather than simply complaining there wasn’t the time to do this, I wrote up a schedule that detailed the report so they could see for themselves what a reasonable deadline would look like.
13. Tell me about a time you set a personal goal for yourself. How did you ensure you would meet your objectives, and what steps did you take?
Some common behavioral interview questions are oriented towards examining how well you can manage your own goals.
Use this question to show relevant experience in setting and accomplishing personal objectives, breaking down the self-improvement techniques you’ve used and the steps taken.
When I decided to lose weight, I knew I would need to establish a plan to help coordinate both my diet and exercise routines.
I accomplished this by meal prepping and setting a daily schedule with reminders to keep me on track.
12. Describe a long-term project you managed. How did you make sure everything was running smoothly?
Some behavioral questions are focused on determining how effective the applicant’s leadership skills are.
When asked about project management, demonstrate your ability to coordinate teams to deliver the best results.
When I managed a long-term project, I broke the project down into different stages and coordinated with each team member to maximize their unique skills.
Consequently, the entire team could work together with an understanding of how their roles interact with their colleagues.
11. How do you accomplish tasks when under a tight deadline? Give me an example.
With some job roles requiring employees to work under extreme pressure, interview questions are set to help establish the methods used by candidates to rise to the challenge.
Explain how you have managed to coordinate your schedule to deal with deadlines efficiently and meet the expectations of your role.
After being given a project to complete by the end of the week, I pulled up my full work schedule and moved all less urgent tasks to the following week so the deadline could be met.
10. Give an example of how you worked on a team.
Most jobs will expect employees to work closely with colleagues as part of a team.
Whether your background involves working on a research team or management team, draw from this experience to show you are a team player.
The department head at my previous company asked us to put together an analysis of our competitors.
I helped coordinate with the team members to break down the task into its constituent components so we could share the workload.
9. Describe a decision you made that wasn’t popular, and explain how you handled implementing it.
Making unpopular decisions is sometimes a harsh reality in the workplace, particularly if you’re tasked with leading a team.
This question is a great opportunity to show your leadership skills to the interviewer, diffusing potentially explosive situations.
While managing a small team, I was asked to schedule overtime for everyone to ensure a deadline was met.
To minimize the disruption to everyone’s personal life at short notice, I arranged a meeting so we could collectively coordinate this over time so that no one would have to sacrifice other obligations.
8. What do you do if you disagree with someone at work?
Disagreements in the workplace are inevitable, but the way they’re handled can vary wildly from one person to the next.
When answering this question, give examples of how you were able to compromise or otherwise handle disagreement without causing conflict.
After being paired with a colleague to put together a presentation, they insisted we approached it in a way that would take far longer than necessary.
To resolve the situation, I outlined my approach along with my reasoning, and we were able to compromise and complete the presentation on time.
7. Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
Business leaders are goal-oriented and want to know that any new hires are capable of reaching goals and how they accomplish this.
When answering, explain the things you can do to reach your goals easily and how you have applied these principles in the workplace.
In my previous role, I was asked to increase the number of sales leads over a given period.
To accomplish this, I revisited the database of customers and expanded it to include potential clients from further afield.
6. Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers.
Employee motivation is one of the driving forces behind effective performance management and can make the difference between failure and success.
A hiring manager is looking for examples of your ability to motivate others and the strategies you use to do so.
When my previous company introduced a series of radical changes to the guidelines there was a great deal of resistance from some members of staff.
I took the time to review the changes and explain how they could be adopted with minimal stress, and the resistant employees were able to rise to the challenge.
5. Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?
Everyone gets things wrong from time to time, from the big mistakes that stop people living their dreams, to simple mistakes that are easily corrected.
How we handle these mistakes shows a great deal about a person’s character, so answer this question with an example that shows your ability to correct a mistake you’ve made.
When dealing with a new customer I gave them incorrect quotes for our services, overcharging them by mistake.
I explained the issue to my team leader and posed a solution at the same time, rather than simply explaining my mistake and expecting them to deal with it.
4. Give an example of how you set goals.
Different people have different approaches to goal setting, with some using the SMART goals method and others preferring to tackle them with another style.
Whatever approach you prefer, make sure you explain your process clearly if asked this question in an interview.
When setting goals, I break the overall objective down into its constituent components, then set up a schedule with milestones that I can use to monitor progress.
3. Have you handled a difficult situation? How?
Every line of work can throw up an unexpected, challenging situation, from a sudden lack of necessary resources to key staff being absent due to sickness.
If the interviewer asks this question, focus on how you managed to resolve the situation.
When a project manager fell ill unexpectedly, the team lacked the relevant guidance to continue their work.
After reviewing the upcoming milestones, I could distribute work to each team member to ensure the work stayed on course in their absence.
2. Have you ever bent company policy to satisfy a client?
While company policy is often set in stone, sometimes you need to be adaptable to keep clients happy.
Explain to the interviewer how you’ve bent the rules enough to satisfy a client without going overboard.
While working at a car rental facility, a potential client lacked one form of identification required under the company policy.
Since they had enough other IDs to verify who they were, I allowed the rental to go through, and the result was a happy customer.
1. Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.
A great interviewer is keen to understand how you deal with high-pressure situations at work and will likely ask you for an example.
In my previous job, we were frequently under pressure to meet targets daily.
My strategy for dealing with this included mindfulness exercises to keep me focused and a system that used scheduling software with regular reminders to keep me on track.
We hope you’ve found this overview of behavioral questions helpful, preparing you for the next time you attend an interview for your dream job.
Be sure to check back on this article the next time you’re going for a job interview, as we’ll update it to include any new and relevant questions.
Here’s a quick recap of the top 25 behavioral interview questions and example answers:
- Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.
- Have you ever bent company policy to satisfy a client?
- Have you handled a difficult situation? How?
- Give an example of how you set goals.
- Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?
- Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers.
- Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
- What do you do if you disagree with someone at work?
- Describe a decision you made that wasn’t popular, and explain how you handled implementing it.
- Give an example of how you worked on a team.
- How do you accomplish tasks when under a tight deadline? Give me an example.
- Describe a long-term project you managed. How did you make sure everything was running smoothly?
- Tell me about a time you set a personal goal for yourself. How did you ensure you would meet your objectives, and what steps did you take?
- Can you describe an instance where your supervisor or manager just gave you too much work with not enough time? What did you do?
- What would you do if you misunderstood an important task on the job? Give me an example.
- Have you ever had to work under someone who wasn’t’ very good at communicating? What happened?
- Give me an example of when you had to suddenly perform under pressure. What happened, and how did you handle it?
- Tell me about your first job in the industry. What did you do to learn the ropes?
- Tell me about a time when you successfully explained a technical problem to a colleague or a customer who didn’t’ have a tech background?
- How do you handle irate customers? Give me an example.
- Can you tell me about a time you gave a presentation that was particularly successful? Why do you think it went well?
- What do you do when your team member refuses to, or just can’t’ complete their part of the work? Give me an example.
- Tell me about a time an unexpected problem derailed your planning. How did you recover?
- Describe a time when you saw a problem and took the initiative to correct it.
- Give me an example of when you used logic to solve a problem.