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How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions
In the 1980's, industrial psychologist Dr. Tom Janz introduced a method of interviewing called
the "Behavioral Interview." Research shows that this interviewing style is extremely effective,
and as such, it has rapidly increased in popularity. The premise is that the best predictor of
future behavior is your past behavior.
Whether you are on a job hunt, or are planning to interview someone, it is important to know
how to accurately prepare for answering behavioral questions. This guide is designed to teach
you the basic structure for answering these increasingly common interview questions.
Behavioral Interview Tips and Tactics
When developing a behavioral interview, employers consider the types of soft skills that will be
needed for the position. When preparing for this type of interview, a job seeker should consider
all these skills as well. By keeping these important traits in mind, a candidate can successfully
prepare for any amount of questioning. Preparing for behavior interviews will also help you
answer more traditional interview questions.
To properly answer a behavioral interview question, there is a three step process referred to as
1. The Situation or Task you were in
2. Action that you took
3.Result of that action
Behavioral Interview Example
Question: "Describe a situation where you have had to deal with a difficult person."
Answer: "I was transfered to a new project at my previous company to replace a beloved
member of the team. My new team leader exhibited hostility towards me and I found myself left
out of vital communications and meetings. After a few weeks, I was able to talk her into a one on
one meeting. When laid out all of the key objectives for the team, the previous employee’s role in
meeting those objectives, and then discussed goals that I could set to make sure I was able to
serve as a quality replacement. In our discussion, we also identified a few underlying issues with
management that she had been carrying around with her. In uncovering all of these sentiments,
she was able to clearly define her situation and achieve an understanding with her supervisors.
In the end, the entire team morale improved, I was able to exceed my goals and the company
itself became more profitable from our teams increased performance."
ST (situation / task) Replace a popular member of staff; hostile
team leader; left out of communications /
A (action) Meeting and discussion with team leader; key
objectives defined for myself as well as the
team; team goals set
Result Team morale improved; exceeded goals;
company more profitable.
When you apply for a position, read the job advertisement to identify the soft skills required and
reflect on the behavioural questions that the potential employer could ask and then prepare
your answers (one minute answers) using the STAR method.
Answer These Interview Questions
Describe a time when you may have been disappointed in your behaviour.
Initiative and Follow-through
Give an example of a situation where you had to overcome major obstacles to achieve
1. Describe a time when you had to analyze facts quickly, define key issues, and
respond immediately or develop a plan that produced good results.
2. If you had to do that activity over again, how would you do it differently?
Describe a situation where you had to be persuasive and sell your idea to someone else.
Working Effectively with Others
Give an example that would show that you've been able to develop and maintain
productive relations with others, though there were differing points of view.
1. Describe a specific project or program that you were involved with that resulted in
improvement in a major work area.
2. Describe a time when you set your sights too high (or too low).
Creativity and Innovation:
Describe a time when you were able to come up with new ideas that were key to the
success of some activity or project.
Describe a time that you prioritized the elements of a complicated project.
Describe a time when you made a bad decision.