Frequently Asked Behavioral Interview Questions

Behavioral interviewing is still the most popular approach to assessing a candidate’s worth. Essentially, the premise is that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. In my work as head of recruiting for a bank, consumer products company, and retail company, and in advising many recruiters while at Stanford, I have found these to be my favorite frequently asked questions across industries:
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Behavioral Interviewing

This method is used by large consulting firms and multinational companies.

  • The purpose of this interviewing approach is to screen for certain skills and characteristics found in successful employees in the company.
  • Interviewer will ask specific questions about a candidate’s experiences to determine if he/she has demonstrated certain job characteristics such as: leadership, creativity, initiative.
  • The interviewer will ask pointed follow-up questions such as:
  • “Can you

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Tips for Behavioral Interviewing

  • Be as specific as possible. Avoid “usually” or “always” responses – no hypothetical answers.
  • Try to use examples related to education, work or extracurricular experience.
  • Take the necessary time to organize your thoughts and responses, “I’ll have an answer for you in a second.”
  • Ask for clarification if needed: ” Am I answering the question … am I on the right track?”

Problem (or Situation)-Action-Result formula (PAR)

When interviewing candidates, Kenneth Widelka, acting general manager of Pearson Reid London House, always asks them to provide examples of how they’ve used certain strengths. He analyzes the stories based on the PAR format, as follows:

  1. Problem
    Start by describing the problem or situation that you faced.

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Behavioral Interview Cheat Sheet

Questions You Should Expect

You will be asked to describe specific situations that demonstrate your abilities in a requisite competency. Here are some examples of typical behavioral questions and the competencies they demonstrate:

  • Describe a difficult problem that you tried to solve. How did you identify the problem? How did you go about trying to solve it? (Demonstrates problem solving)

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Behavioral Interviews and the Career Changer


How Behavioral Interviews Work

In a behavioral interview, the interviewer will evaluate your competencies (such as teamwork, analysis, planning, and initiative) in relation to those she has determined to be required for successful performance on the job.

Behavioral interviewing is designed to elicit information from a job candidate about relevant past behavior and performance. The theory is that past behavior is the best predictor of future … [ Read more ]

Behavioral Interview Questions

Tell me about a time when you…

  1. Prioritized the elements of a complicated project.
  2. Handled a difficult situation with a co-worker.
  3. Were tolerant of an opinion that was different from yours.
  4. Had to deal with an irate customer.
  5. Surmounted a major obstacle.
  6. Worked effectively under pressure.

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50 Behavior Based Interview Questions

For Behaviors that Revolve Around Leadership:

  1. Tell me about a time when you accomplished something significant that wouldn’t have happened if you had not been there to make it happen.
  2. Tell me about a time when you were able to step into a situation, take charge, muster support and achieve good results.
  3. Describe for me a

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