Guide To Behavioural-Based Interview Questions With Samples
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) acknowledges that behavioural interview questions are an effective interview technique that can be used across different types of companies. These questions are a crucial part of the hiring process, as they help evaluate a candidate's work experience and work style.
Now, this standardised set of questions allows interviewers to compare and assess multiple candidates applying for the same job opening in a structured manner. Behavioural interviews aren’t technical at all, and are focused on the candidate, making it possible for them to prepare well in advance.
Of course, you’ve got several interview strategies and question types available for you to assess candidate readiness and suitability, but behavioural-based questions remain one of the best methods for finding out how the candidate is able to handle different work situations (sometimes on the spur of the moment)!
What Are Behavioural-Based Interview Questions?
Behavioural-based questions are interview questions that are designed to elicit information about a candidate's past behaviours in specific situations, as a good way of predicting their future performance. Instead of hypothetical or theoretical questions, these questions ask the candidate to describe real-life experiences in detail, and how they handled each one of them.
By asking questions about how a candidate has handled specific situations in the past, employers can get a sense of how they might handle similar situations in the future. These challenging questions typically focus on skills and qualities that are important for the job, such as problem-solving, teamwork, creative thinking, communication, adaptability, and leadership.
For example, instead of asking a candidate how they would handle a difficult customer, a behavioural-based interview question might ask them to describe a time when they had to deal with a difficult customer in the past, and how they kept on top of the situation.
Examples Of Behavioural-Based Interview Questions
Sample questions about teamwork
Can you describe a time when you had to work with a team to achieve a goal? What was your role on the team, and what did you contribute to the team's success?
Could you provide an instance where you encountered conflict while working with a team? How did you handle the situation, fulfil your responsibilities, and manage the conflict?
Describe a situation where you had to give difficult, yet essential and constructive feedback to a team member. How did you approach the conversation, and what was the outcome?
Have you ever collaborated with a team member from a different department in your company? Could you describe how you dealt with the differences in departmental goals, and still achieved the project's objectives?
Communication mistakes are common. Can you tell me about a time when you wished you had communicated differently with a team member?
Give me an example of a project where you had to work with a team that included people with different backgrounds and skill sets. How did you leverage everyone's strengths to achieve the project's goals?
Have you ever worked with a team member who was not pulling their weight? Could you describe how you managed the situation and whether you were still able to fulfil your responsibilities and meet your goals?
Tell me about a situation where you had to make a compromise or sacrifice for the benefit of the team. How did you approach the situation, and what was the outcome?
Sample questions about adaptability
Have you ever had to take on a new responsibility at work that you were completely unfamiliar with? Could you describe how you adapted to the sudden change?
Could you describe a situation at work when you faced significant pressure? What was happening, and how did you manage the pressure?
Have you ever worked on a project where the requirements suddenly changed due to management or other factors? How did you ensure that you met the new requirements and deadlines?
Can you describe a time when you had to deal with an unexpected obstacle or setback at work? How did you adapt to the situation, and continue to move forward?
Can you think of a time when a deadline for a project was unexpectedly moved up? What actions did you take to ensure that you met the new timeframe?
Have you experienced a significant change within your team? Could you describe the change, and how you adapted to the new environment?
Could you describe a time when a project that you were responsible for did not go according to plan? How did you handle the situation, and what steps did you take to address any issues?
Have you ever been presented with a new technology or software that you had to learn to use quickly? Could you describe how you adapted to the tech or programme?
Sample questions about time management
Can you share an experience where you had to prioritise and organise your tasks to meet important deadlines effectively? What strategies did you use?
Have you ever missed a deadline? Can you describe the situation, and what steps you took to address the issue?
Tell me about a complex project you managed from start to finish. How did you plan and execute the project to ensure it was completed within the established timeframe?
Have you ever worked on a project with multiple stakeholders? How did you ensure everyone's needs and expectations were met while keeping the project on track?
Can you think of a time when you were faced with too many responsibilities? How did you manage the workload and ensure that everything was completed on time?
Describe a situation where you had to juggle multiple projects with conflicting deadlines. How did you handle the situation, and what steps did you take to ensure all projects were completed on time?
Have you ever set a personal goal for yourself? Can you describe the steps you took to achieve that goal, and the challenges you faced along the way?
Have you ever had to delegate tasks to others to manage your workload effectively? Can you describe the situation and your approach to delegation?
Sample questions about communication
Can you describe a time when you had to communicate a complex idea to someone who had little knowledge of the subject matter? How did you ensure they understood your perspective and what you were describing?
Describe a time when you had to communicate a change in process or procedure to your team via written means. What steps did you take to ensure everyone was informed and understood the changes?
Give me an example of a time when you had to communicate bad news to a stakeholder or team member. How did you deliver the news and ensure they received the information respectfully and professionally?
Describe a time when you had to communicate with someone who had a different communication style than you. How did you adjust your approach to ensure effective communication?
Give me an example of a time when you had to negotiate with a vendor or external partner. How did you approach the negotiation and ensure a positive outcome for all parties involved?
Describe a time when you had to explain a technical issue or solution to a non-technical stakeholder. How did you communicate the information in a way that was easy for them to understand?
Tell me about a time when you had to provide feedback to a supervisor or manager. How did you approach the conversation and ensure they received the information professionally?
Can you provide an example of a presentation you delivered that had a positive outcome? How did you prepare and convey the information to ensure its success?
Sample questions about leadership
Tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult decision that affected your team or company. How did you approach the decision-making process?
Give an example of how you have developed and implemented a new initiative or process to improve your team's performance.
Give an example of how you have mentored or developed a team member to improve their skills or performance.
Describe a time when you had to take a calculated risk in order to achieve a goal or objective.
Describe a time when you had to lead a team to work together to achieve a common goal or objective.
Describe a time when you had to adapt your leadership style to meet the needs of your team or company.
Describe a time when you had to lead a team through a major change or transition. How did you manage the change and help your team adapt?
Tell me about a time when you had to manage a team with diverse skill sets, backgrounds, and personalities. How did you ensure everyone worked together effectively?
Sample questions about personal stress
Tell me about a time when you felt overwhelmed with your workload. What did you do to manage the stress and still meet your responsibilities?
Describe a situation where you had to make a critical decision under high pressure. How did you cope with the stress?
Give me an example of a time when you had to deal with a sudden change that caused you stress. How did you handle it?
Describe a time when you felt you were swamped with your personal life and work responsibilities. What did you do to manage your stress and maintain your productivity?
Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a crisis situation. How did you manage your stress level and handle the situation?
Your Key Takeaways On Behavioural-Based Interview Questions
Do keep in mind that the candidates’ answers to behavioural-based interview questions should last between one and two minutes on average, with factual answers being even shorter. The answers are meant to help you see how efficiently a candidate can think on their feet (not tell their entire life story!), as opposed to relying solely on their accomplishments listed on paper.
If you're in employer branding, it's also important to use behavioural questions to identify the kind of people who are most likely to excel in the role. Above all, remember that this isn't meant to be a new form of torture for the candidates, your goal is to learn as much as you can about them in a short timeframe, and how they may (or may not) complement the current team.
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