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10 most effective behavioral interview questions

Behavioral interview questions help the hiring managers test the competency of prospective hires based on their approach to challenging situations.

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To effectively evaluate candidates, asking why they are fit for the job is not enough. Instead, asking more with behavioral questions help interviewer get a more insightful view into to a person’s past that signifies current struggles and future capability. Download now (for free) our 10 behavioral interview questions to power-up your hiring assessment. 

Overview

Selecting the most qualified candidate for the job goes way beyond their college degree. We need to access their skills and abilities and insights into their personality. This way, you can predict their response to real-life issues even without your supervision.

Behavioral interview questions allow interviewers to know a candidate better by presenting a situation to him/her and asking what action(s) they will take if in that situation. A behavioral question can also be used to know if a candidate has faced such a situation in the past and how they dealt with it. When asked right, good behavioral questions help assess a candidate’s leadership abilities, attitude, communication skills, and more.

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Sample behavioral interview questions

1. Describe your experience when you had to deal with a problematic colleague.

Why is this question useful?

  • This allows you to assess a candidate’s interpersonal/communication skills. Instead of asking a generic question that may yield an unsatisfactory answer (how would you describe your interpersonal/communication skill?), this question lets you know the depth of their ability. 
  • Helps you know if the candidate is diplomatic: Is s/he willing to reach out to the other party for the sake of the team or will s/he stick to his or her ideals?

Example

If the candidate statement focuses on how terrible the problematic employee was, it is a red flag. However, if s/he talks about the steps taken to resolve the conflicts, it shows the candidate knows how to diffuse a situation and foster a healthy relationship.

2. Have you ever been assigned a task you were not familiar with? How did you go about it?

Why is this question useful?

  • Helps you understand the candidate’s problem-solving attitude: Is s/he a calm problem solver who follows a formal thought process, or is s/he a rash decision maker?
  • This also helps you assess their ability to work as a team: Would s/he rather solve the problem individually, or would they seek help?
  • If a candidate has a problem answering this question, this means s/he has never had to work outside his/her comfort zone. This should serve as a red flag if problem-solving is a vital skill needed to succeed in the role.

Example

A candidate may say he/she will first seek the help of a colleague or superior before using that idea to create an outside-the-box solution to the problem. This would indicate that the candidate is an innovative thinker who just needs a little assistance to get problems solved.

3. Describe a time you were asked to perform a task that went against your value. What did you do?

Why is this question useful?

  • This allows you to know where the candidate’s values lie.
  • It also lets you understand how they communicate when in an uncomfortable or uncertain situation.
  • Helps you check if the candidate values align with that of the company.

4. Tell me something you had to learn very quickly but knew nothing about before.

Why is this question useful?

  • This lets you assess how fast the candidate can learn something new.
  • It also gives an insight into the candidate's mind: what subject is the candidate not familiar with? How confident he/she is in unfamiliar territory?

Example

A candidate response will help you know their learning style. You may want to take a mental note in case the candidate shows signs of mentorship potential that could allow them to pass their knowledge to other employees.

5. Tell me about a time you had multiple assignments with conflicting deadlines, and how you completed each of them.

Why is this question useful?

  • This allows you to access the candidate’s approach to time management. 
  • It also provides an insight into the creative problem-solving skill the candidate might bring to the team.

6. Tell me about a time you lead a team on a challenging project

Why is this question useful?

  • By asking this question, you get to access the candidate’s leadership skills. Instead of a generic question {demonstrate your leadership skills}, this question seeks a practical and detailed answer.
  • It gives you a clear picture of the candidate’s problem-solving skills.
  • Working as a team is essential to achieve a goal. How did the candidate rally the team members to action? How did s/he ensure their cooperation?

Example

A candidate may not achieve the set goal of the project, which is not necessarily bad. Instead, make a note of how the candidate motivates the team members after such failure.

Download for free the full interview questions 👉

In this interview guide, you'll learn:

  • 10 most effective behavioral questions.
  • How to evaluate a candidate from a behavioral angle. 
  • What can be inferred from candidates' different types of behavioral answers.

How to use this template

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    Keep in mind that this template is not a legal document and may not take into account all relevant local or national laws
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    Print out for easier handling and communication with your team.

Who this template is for

  • Hiring team that wants to hire the perfect candidate for the job.
  • Recruiters who want to predict the future behaviors of job seekers.
  • Candidates preparing for an interview for a job opening.

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