Behavioral Interview Question Database

One technique that's being used more frequently to screen job applicants is the use of behavioral interview questions.  This technique forces the interviewee to answer the question in a structured manner, which is good news for anyone conducting job interviews.

Unfortunately, responding in this way does not come naturally for many individuals.  The behavioral interview question database that follows can help everyone to understand, and prepare their answers to, the different types of questions that might be asked during this type of interview.

Traditional versus Behavioral Interview Questions

Anyone that's ever been on a job interview has probably been asked traditional interview questions.  In fact, even during a behavioral interview you can expect to be asked some of the more traditional questions such as:

  • What do you know about our company?
  • Why are you thinking about leaving your job?

Anyone that's interested in seeing more of these types of questions can review over 100 examples in our traditional interview question database.

During a behavioral interview, however, the job candidate is expected to answer questions using a prescribed format, such as the STAR technique.  The term STAR is an acronym that helps everyone to remember how to structure their answers:

  • Situation / Task:  the interviewee should always start their "story" by explaining the situation they were in, or the task they were trying to achieve.
  • Action:  the next part of the story should explain the action that was taken.  The interview team or interviewer is expecting to hear the specific action the job candidate took.
  • Result:  finally, it's important to explain the outcome or results that were achieved.

Generally, job candidates do a good job of describing the situation they were facing.  But the story's strength usually fades as it progresses.  This is unfortunate since the interview team is most interested in the actions the candidate took and the outcome, or results, of all this effort.

This is one of the reasons it's so important to prepare for a job interview.  The team, or hiring manager, will usually be scoring the candidate in each component of the STAR.  Interviewees often do themselves a disservice by not covering each of these components adequately.

Behavioral Interview Questions

In order to practice behavioral interviewing, it's important to understand the various types of questions that might be asked. Even the structure of the question is somewhat unique to this technique.  That's why the following list is so helpful.

This database is constructed of questions only; there are no answers in the following sections.  We've already addressed how to structure responses to these types of questions in our article:  Behavioral Interviewing Technique.  This database can be used to help develop a list of "stories," and practicing using the behavioral format for responses.

Don't be overwhelmed because we've outlined over sixty behavioral questions in this database.  Many of these questions will elicit a similar response, so it's not necessary to have sixty stories ready and practiced.  To help, we've grouped the questions into eight common categories.  This list will also help everyone to mentally run through their valuable work experiences, and aid in the recall of major accomplishments and challenges.

Business Knowledge and Judgment Skills

  • Tell me about a time when you were faced with a problem that required logic and good judgment to solve.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to analyze a lot of information before making a decision.
  • Tell me about a time when you identified a problem before it got out of control.
  • Describe for me a time when you had to make a fast decision.
  • Tell me about a time when you found yourself getting bogged down in the details.
  • Tell me about a time when you used your business knowledge to improve productivity.

Communications Skills

  • Describe a situation in which you were able to use your persuasion skills to successfully convince someone to adopt your idea.
  • Give me an example of a time where you used your presentation skills to try and influence someone's opinion.
  • Tell me about the most important written document that you ever completed.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to communicate an idea in writing.
  • Tell me about a time when you were able to successfully communicate an idea to someone that may not have liked you personally.

Fostering Change

  • Give me an example of a time when you had to persuade people to do something they really didn't want to do.
  • Describe for me the most creative idea you've ever developed.
  • Describe for me the most innovative solution you've ever developed.
  • Describe for me the most unique solution you've ever developed to a problem.
  • Describe for me the most significant change you've ever been asked to implement.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to challenge the status quo.

Valuing Diversity

  • Tell me about a time when you had to abide by a policy that you did not personally agree with.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with conflict at work.
  • Tell me about a time when you were placed on a team and either you or someone on that team didn't see eye-to-eye.
  • Describe for me the most difficult person you've ever had to deal with at work.
  • Describe for me a time when you needed to work cooperatively with someone that did not share the same ideas as you.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to make an adjustment to your personal style in order to successfully work with a coworker.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to adjust to a situation over which you had no control.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to be tolerant of a coworker's ideas.

Leadership Skills

  • Give me an example of a time when you took the initiative to lead a project.
  • Tell me about a time when you used your motivational skills.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to delegate a task or project to someone else.
  • Tell me about a time when you used your team building skills.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to fire someone you liked.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to rely on a team to complete a project.
  • Tell me about a time when you were displaying your true leadership style.
  • Tell me about a time when you took the initiative to get something done without being asked.
  • Describe for me what you did when faced with a coworker that wasn't pulling his or her fair share of the load.
  • Tell me about a time when you rewarded someone in recognition for their contribution to the company.
  • Tell me about a time when you were leading a group that was not getting along with one another.
  • Tell me about a time when you were placed in a leadership role and you were met with resistance.

Lifelong Learning

  • Tell me about a time when you were under a great deal of stress and you had to use your coping skills.
  • Tell me about a time when you were under pressure.
  • Describe for me the largest obstacle that you've ever faced.
  • Describe for me the most difficult ethical situation you've ever faced.
  • Give me an example of a time when you experienced a personal loss after doing what you believed was the right thing to do.
  • Tell me about a time when you were underachieving.
  • Tell me about a time when you weren't able to complete a project on time.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an irate customer.

Achieving Results and Goals

  • Give me an example of a stretch goal you set for yourself and how you were able to achieve it.
  • Give me an example of a time where you had to go above and beyond the call of duty to achieve a goal.
  • Tell me about a time when you failed to accomplish a goal.
  • Tell me about a time when you set a goal or target too high or too low.
  • Describe for me the accomplishment that has given you the most satisfaction.
  • Tell me about the most important goal you've ever set for yourself and how you achieved it.
  • Tell me about the most important goal you've never reached.

Decision Making / Problem Solving Skills

  • Tell me about a time when you used your analytical skills to solve a problem.
  • Tell me about a time when you had seemingly too many deadlines approaching at the same time and you needed to prioritize your work.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision and there wasn't enough time to gather all the information you needed to make a good decision.
  • Tell me the most difficult decision you've made in the last 12 months.
  • Tell me about a time when you didn't see an obvious answer to a difficult question.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to anticipate potential problems and develop preventative measures ahead of time.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make an unpopular decision.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a quick decision and not all the processes were in place.
  • Tell me about a time when you made a recommendation that involved a lot of risk.

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