Behavioral Interview Questions

We've pulled together a list of common behavioral-interview questions. One of the keys to success in interviewing is practice, so we encourage you to take the time to work out answers to these questions using one of the suggested methods, such as the STAR approach. Be sure not to memorize answers; the key to interviewing success is simply being prepared for the questions and having a mental outline to follow in responding to each question.

Looking for some sample common interview questions?

Here is a sample:

  • Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
  • Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  • Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone's opinion.
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
  • Please discuss an important written document you were required to complete.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  • Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision.
  • What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
  • Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).
  • Tell me about a difficult decision you've made in the last year.
  • Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish and failed.
  • Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.
  • Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
  • Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.
  • Tell me about a time when you delegated a project effectively.
  • Give me an example of a time when you used your fact-finding skills to solve a problem.
  • Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem.
  • Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
  • Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision.
  • Please tell me about a time you had to fire a friend.
  • Describe a time when you set your sights too high (or too low).

Behavioral Interviewing – more advanced questions and rating system

The behavioral interview technique is used by employers to evaluate a candidate's experiences and behaviors in order to determine their potential for success. The interviewer identifies desired skills and behaviors, then structures open-ended questions and statements to elicit detailed responses. A rating system is developed and selected criteria are evaluated during the interview. As a candidate, you should be prepared to answer the questions and statements thoroughly.


Why did you choose your major and career?
At what point did you make this decision?
Specifically, what attracts you to this industry as a career?


Your level of understanding of technical and professional information and your ability to apply technical and professional skills.

1. Sometimes it's easy to get in "over your head". Describe a situation where you had to request help or assistance on a project or assignment.
Situation Action Result

2. Give an example of how you applied knowledge from previous work to a project in another job.
Situation Action Result


Working effectively with others in the organization and outside the formal lines of authority (i.e., peers, other units, senior management, and the like) to accomplish organizational goals and to identify and resolve problems. Considering the impact of your decisions on others.

1. Describe a situation where others you were working with on a project disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?
Situation Action Result

2. Describe a situation in which you found that your results were not up to your supervisor's expectations. What happened? What action did you take?
Situation Action Result

3. Tell of a time when you worked with a colleague who was not completing their share of the work. Who, if anyone, did you tell or talk to about it? Did the manager take any steps to correct your colleague? Did you agree or disagree with the manager's actions?
Situation Action Result

4. Describe a situation in which you had to arrive at a compromise or guide others to a compromise.
Situation Action Result


Relating and comparing data from different sources, identifying issues, securing relevant information, and identifying relationships.

1. What steps do you follow to study a problem before making a decision?
Situation Action Result

2. We can sometimes identify a small problem and fix it before it becomes a major problem. Give an example(s) of how you have done this.
Situation Action Result

3. Describe a situation in which you had to collect information by asking many questions of several people.
Situation Action Result

4. In a supervisory or group leader role, have you ever had to discipline or counsel an employee or group member? What was the nature of the discipline? What steps did you take? How did that make you feel? How did you prepare yourself?
Situation Action Result

5. Recall a time from your work experience when your manager or supervisor was unavailable and a problem arose. what was the nature of the problem? How did you handle that situation? How did that make you feel?
Situation Action Result

6. Recall a time when you were assigned what you considered to be a complex project. Specifically, what steps did you take to prepare for and finish the project? Were you happy with the outcome? What one step would you have done differently if given the chance?
Situation Action Result

7. What was the most complex assignment you have had? What was your role?
Situation Action Result


Maintaining effectiveness in varying environments, tasks and responsibilities, or with various types of people.

1. How was your transition from high school to college? Did you face any particular problems?
Situation Action Result

2. Tell of some situations in which you have had to adjust quickly to changes over which you had no control. What was the impact of the change on you?
Situation Action Result


Setting high goals or standards of performance for self, subordinates, others and the organization. Experiencing dissatisfaction with average performance.

1. Compare and contrast the times when you did work which was above the standard with times your work was below the standard.
Above Standard Below Standard

2. Describe a time when you were not very satisfied or pleased with your performance. What did you do about it?
Situation Action Result

3. What are your standards of success in your last job? What have you done to meet these standards?
Situation Action Result

4. How have you differed from your professors in evaluating your performance? How did you handle the situation?
Situation Action Result


The extent to which activities and responsibilities available in the job overlap with activities and responsibilities that result in personal satisfaction.

1. Give examples of your experiences in a job that were satisfying. Give examples of your experiences that were dissatisfying.
Situation Why Satisfying Why Dissatisfying

2. What kind of supervisor do you work best for? Provide examples.
Type Why this Preference?


Making active attempts to influence events to achieve goals. Self-starting rather than passively accepting. Taking action to achieve goals beyond what is necessarily called for, originating action.

1. Describe some projects or ideas (not necessarily your own) that were implemented, or carried out successfully primarily because of your efforts.
Idea Role in Implementation Outcome

2. Describe a situation that required a number of things to be done at the same time. How did you handle it? What was the result?
Situation Action Result

3. Have you found any ways to make school or a job easier or more rewarding?
Situation Action Result


Assimilating and applying new job-related information promptly.

1. What tricks or techniques have you learned to make school or a job easier, or to make yourself more effective? How did you learn that?
Situation Action Result


Establishing a course of action for yourself (and/or others) to accomplish specific goals. Planning proper assignments for personnel and appropriately allocating resources.

1. How do you determine priorities in scheduling your time? Give examples.
Priority How Determined Result

2. Describe a time in school when you had many projects or assignments due at the same time. What steps did you take to get them all done?
Situation Action Result


Clearly expressing ideas in writing-including grammar, organization, and structure.

1. Tell of a time when your active listening skills really paid off for you-maybe a time when other people missed the key idea being expressed.
Situation Action Result

2. What has been your experience in giving presentations to small or large groups? What has been your most successful experience in speech making?
Experience Steps to Presentation Result


Making efforts to listen to and understand the customer (both internal and external), anticipating customer needs and giving high priority to customer satisfaction.

1. Tell of the most difficult customer service experience that you have ever had to handle-perhaps an angry or irate customer. Be specific and tell what you did and what was the outcome.
Situation Action Result


Acting out of consideration for the feelings and needs of others.

1. Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. Why was this person difficult? How did you handle that person?
Situation Action Result

2. Describe a situation where you found yourself dealing with someone who didn't like you. How did you handle it?
Situation Action Result


Listed below are key behaviors you may be evaluated

  • On Adaptability Analysis Attention to Detail
  • Communication-Oral Communication-Written Control
  • Decisiveness Delegation Development of Subordinates
  • Energy Entrepreneurial Insight Equipment Operation
  • Fact Finding-Oral Financial Analytical Ability Flexibility
  • Impact Independence Initiative
  • Innovation Integrity Judgment
  • Leadership/ Influence Listening Motivation
  • Negotiation Organizational Sensitivity Participative Management
  • Planning and Organizing Practical Learning Presentation Skills
  • Process Operation Rapport Building Resilience
  • Risk Taking Safety Awareness Sales Ability/Persuasiveness
  • Sensitivity Strategic Analysis Stress
  • Teamwork Technical/Professional Knowledge Technical/Professional
  • Proficiency
  • Tenacity Training Work Standards


An example of a simplistic rating system that may be used to evaluate you while other rating systems are very sophisticated with multiple grading and evaluation systems components:

Significantly above criteria required for successful job performance

Generally exceeds criteria relative to quality and quantity of behavior required.

Meets criteria relative to quality and quantity of behavior required.

Generally does not meet criteria relative to quality and quantity of behavior required.

Significantly below criteria required for successful job performance.