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What Are the Behavioral Interview Questions?

Behavioral questions are popular among interviewers, because they believe that applicants’ answers to them provide deeper insights into their personalities and professionalism than any information they reveal about themselves. In employers’ view, candidates’ responses to behavioral questions carry more informational weight than their educational background or work places enumerated in their résumés. Behavioral questions, therefore, enable them to hire the right candidates and weed out the rest. This type of questions elicit from candidates more reliable information about their professional skills because they center on their past behavior in their previous workplace. By asking behavioral questions, recruiters invite applicants to tell how they approached a challenging work situation in the past and what actions they initiated to resolve it. The main assumption underlining behavioral questions is the consistency of human personality and conduct; applicants’ former behavior allows recruiters to make predictions about their future performance in a new workplace. How candidates behaved in the past determines whether they are a good fit for the advertised position.  

How Are the Behavior Questions Better than Other Types of Interview Questions?

Employers have long been convinced that traditional interview questions yield little to no useful information about candidates’ aptitude for the position. Questions inviting applicants to give a reason why they should be hired simply provoke them into telling their interviewers what they want to hear. Questions asking job candidates to envisage their possible reaction to certain events are hypothetical and reveal more about the workings of their imagination than about their behavior in reality. In answering questions about their hypothetical reactions, applicants often show recruiters their ideal selves that may not correspond to their real selves. These questions also allow applicants to distance themselves from their own experience and draw on various examples not necessarily connected to their lives.   

Behavioral questions are, by contrast, so constructed that they inevitably propel applicants to refer to their experience and, in so doing, reveal some aspects of their personality. It is difficult to avoid the disclosure of personal information during the Behavioral Questions Interview because this type of questions requires from applicants to provide a brief anecdote based on their own work experience that highlight their professional skills and personal traits. Applicants’ brief narratives about themselves allow employers to understand well their professionalism and potential as employees, making their hiring decisions more informed and successful.    

How to Answer the Behavior Interview Questions?

Behavior questions are geared towards eliciting information about your past behavior at work. When recruiters pose behavioral questions, they ask applicants to recall a specific challenging situation or event in their workplace which they successfully resolved by taking certain actions. The very format of behavior questions thus suggests that interviewers have a clear idea of how job candidates should respond to their questions: they expect them to follow either the STAR or the CAR methods. Which of this methods you choose makes little difference, because there are several overlapping points between them.

The STAR Format   

The acronym “STAR” is formed from the initial letters of the words “Situation,” “Task,” “Action,” and “Results.” Look at these words as the titles of the four paragraphs comprising your narrative that you should construct in response to recruiters’ behaviour questions. First, you should describe a problematic situation from your past work experience pertinent to interviewers’ question. Elaborate on the challenges you then faced and mention your colleagues also involved in the situation. You recruiters should understand all details of the problem to evaluate correctly your actions and your contribution to its resolution.

After delineating the situation, you should talk about the task you set yourself to fulfil to solve the problem. Explain why you thought the completion of the task you assigned to yourself or your team would mend the situation in question. If you encountered problems while performing the task, talk about this as well.  

The third part of your answer should be devoted to the description of the actions you took to set the problematic situation right. This is the most important section of your answer, because it is in actions that your intelligence, decision-making skills, work ethic, and perseverance are shown most conspicuously. Dwell on your actions longer, therefore, and depict them in a greater detail. Together with actions which you performed, tell your interviewers about the actions you considered making but decided against in the end. By explaining why an alternative course of actions appeared to you less beneficial, you will demonstrate to your recruiters your logical, tactical, and strategic thinking.   

The last section is about results that you achieved, when you undertook certain actions. Your recruiters want to ascertain that you learned from your experience and made relevant conclusions from the situation you are describing. An ability to change and learn from their experience is necessary in employees who may be expected to be flexible at work and adaptable to any change of the route that a company’s business may need to take.  

The CAR Format

The CAR method is similar in many points to the STAR format, appearing to be a condensed version of the latter. The acronym “CAR” is formed from the first letters of the following words: “Context,” “Actions,” and “Results.” When you answer behavioural question using the CAR format, begin your answer with describing a specific working scenario which you bring up to support it. This is the context of the scenario. Specify also space and time when the situation occurred, mentioning your colleagues that worked with you on the problem you encountered.     

The most elaborate part of your answer is the one that focuses on the actions you initiated to solve the problem. Your potential employers are most interested in knowing about your performance in your previous workplace, because only by evaluating your past behavior can they predict how you will carry yourself in your new working environment. When you focus on your actions, describe not only what you did but also those alternative roads that you could have followed but finally judged to be less advantageous. Talking about discarded alternatives, you will demonstrate to your recruiters that you can see the bigger picture, possess an ability to anticipate the future development of events, and know how to pre-empt problems before they occur.

In conclusion, you should talk about the results your actions produced. Your recruiters want to ascertain that you draw appropriate conclusions from your experience and can update your future behavior in accordance with the lessons you learn.



Examples of the Behavior Interview Questions

JobTestPrep has compiled a list of behavioral questions usually asked on face-to-face interviews. In this section, we are presenting a partial list of these questions. Read them carefully, compose detailed answers to them in keeping with the STAR and the CAR formats delineated above, and come to your interview prepared to outshine all other candidates for the applied position.  

  • Describe a situation where you made a risky decision. How did your risk-taking pay off?
  • Describe a situation where you made a decision unsupported by the rest of the team. Why did you go against an opinion of the majority?
  • Tell us about a time when other employees sabotaged the fulfillment of the project. What did you do to salvage the situation?
  • Share an example of how you resolved disagreements with your managers.
  • Tell us about a situation when you did not have enough work to do.
  • Tell us about a time when you had to multitask at work.
  • Describe a situation when you were given a task which you did not know how to do. How did you approach it?
  • Give an example of how you worked under pressure.
  • How did you manage an employee who refused to comply with the company’s policy?
  • Tell us about the biggest mistake you made at work.
  • Describe a situation at work where you led by example.
  • Describe a decision that you made at work but regretted afterwards.

What to Do before the Interview?

Before you set foot in the interview room in your desired company, review the job requirements advertised in its description. After this, compose a list of behavioural skills that match these requirements. Take time to think about situations where you employed these skills in your college or previous workplaces. Coming to your interview with ready examples of work situations is crucial for your success. You will not have time during your conversation with recruiters to rake up your past life in search of a suitable example of your conduct. Yet if it so happens that no appropriate situation comes to your mind, when you are answering a question, do not panic. Ask your interviewers for a few minutes to recall an appropriate situation. Behaviour interview questions are difficult, and recruiters will understand that you may need some moments to collect your thoughts. To ensure success on your interview even more firmly, go also through a few dry runs of our interview materials. Our resources will instil confidence in you and will teach you how to pass all kinds of interviews with flying colours.   

JobTestPrep specializes in assisting job applicants throughout their pre-employment assessment. We put forth an extra effort to compose not only accurate simulations of various tests but also interview materials. Our interview resources include Interview Preparation, Interview Preparation Self-Assessment, and Interview Preparation Live. If you are competing for a managerial position, you can find among our materials examples of interviews for would-be managers. Purchase our PrepPack™ and give impressive performance during your interviews.