4 Secrets for Handling a Behavioral Interview

A behavioral interview is a major part of the candidate assessment process. Employers and hiring managers rely on behavioral job interview questions in order to find out if the candidate has the skills and competencies needed for the job. In a typical behavioral job interview, the interviewer will want to know how you handled a situation, instead of how you might handle it in the future. In this post, you’ll learn how to handle a behavioral interview, what kind of questions to expect, and what method to utilize to answers the questions.

How to prepare for a behavioral interview?

Your answers to behavioral interview questions should be short, focused, and must put you in the best light. The tips below will help you handle a behavioral interview in the most confident way that best highlights your competencies and skillsets. Let’s get started.


First and foremost, learn about the company before you set foot in the HQ. Your knowledge will come in handy when the interviewer is trying to determine if you’re a good fit for the position and the company. Plus, your company research will provide a solid understanding of what the company does and how your background and skills make you a great fit. Here is a mini-guide on how to research a company pre-interview:

behavioral job interview linkedin

Visit the company website: Read up on the company’s history, leadership, mission statement, products and services, and company culture. If there’s a Press section, read through the latest updates, articles and blogs.

Browse social media: Social media is a good way to find out how the company wants its consumers to see it. This includes checking out the company profile on LinkedIn. You’ll be able to see your connections at the company, job posted, as well as the profiles of key executives. While you’re on the website, look for the head of the department you would be reporting to, as well as the person you will be interviewing with.

Don’t neglect internet search: Search both Google and Google News for the company name. You may find a list of press releases, new articles that mention the company, interviews with company executives, and much more. You may also want to find out what previous and existing employees have to say about the company on Glassdoor. In recent years, Glassdoor’s Interview Questions and Reviews section has proven to be a goldmine of information for job seekers. Here, you’ll find information on how tough the interviews are and what the company culture is like. I would advise you to take reviews with a grain of salt – scorned employees are most likely to leave negative reviews when they are unhappy. Look for repeated themes – for example, praise for family leave or frustration with working hours – as those are likely to be accurate.


Interviewers often use “behavioral interview” as an opportunity to assess the candidate’s talent, ability, and results. To prepare for a behavioral interview, you’ll want to look for the type of competencies the company is looking for. Review the job description to get a sense of what behavioral traits the employer is seeking. Take a moment to prepare a list of attributes and top skills in relation to the position for which you’re applying. Then, prepare answers for behavioral interview questions that illustrate that there is a fit between your skills and the position the company is looking to fill.

job interview questions behavioralEmployers highly value people who demonstrate key soft skills like these:

Conflict resolution, risk management, optimism Attention to detail, persistence, consistency Adaptability, learning from others, time management Critical thinking, empathy, resourcefulness Persuasiveness, resilience, judgment Integrity, handling stress, negotiation Team building, management, leadership

Refresh your memory and think about past experiences or successes that highlight these abilities. Well put anecdotes and stories on situations you have dealt with or projects you’ve handled can prove to be excellent answers for behavioral interview questions. But make sure your answers are short, crisp and to the point.


You can use the STAR interview method to give concise answers to behavior job interview questions. Using this method you can provide concrete examples of how you handled certain situations in the past. STAR interview response would highlight the skills or experience you possess for the job at hand.

interview job questions behavioralSTAR stands for: situation, task, action, and result. The opening to STAR interview questions are easy to recognize. They often begin with:

Describe a situation where… Tell me about a time when… Have you ever… Give me an example of… What do you do when…


Have you ever failed to achieve a goal at work?


 Situation: I had set a huge goal that would have made 10x more profit for our department. I created a plan and followed the necessary steps to achieve it.

 Task: I had to adapt to several roadblocks and challenges, etc. that naturally popped up. Unfortunately, I made a mistake in the timeline and failed to achieve the goal in the due time.

 Action: I took full responsibility for not having achieved the goal. It was also a great learning experience as I certainly came out on the other side smarter and more skilled. It made me aware of what to do next time in such a situation.

 Result: Next time, we were able to meet our desired goal two months short of the deadline.

 Now that you have a good sense of how to structure responses to behavioral job interview questions, practice following this format. Below is a list of common behavioral interview to help you etch out more detailed descriptions for the job interview.

Tip: A strong STAR response will last from one to three minutes.


In order to help you prepare, we have curated a list of some of the most common behavioral interview questions. Go through the list to frame your responses to hypothetical situations confidently. An important thing to remember is that you should talk about relevant competencies, skills and attributes while giving your answers.

behavioral interview for job questionsTell me about…

  1. a time when you made a mistake at work.
  2. how you handle disagreements with a coworker/supervisor.
  3. a time you had to meet a tight deadline.
  4. a problem you had to solve when you did not have all of the information you needed.
  5. a time when you failed to meet a client’s expectations, and how you tried to resolve the issue.
  6. a time when you made a decision that negatively impacted others around you and how you handled it.
  7. a time when you worked on multiple projects. How did you prioritize? What were the results?

Have you ever…

  1. dealt with an angry or upset client?
  2. gone above and beyond to meet a client’s expectations? What did you do?
  3. been in a situation that was ethically questionable?
  4. had to fire anyone?
  5. had to compete against co-workers? What steps did you take? What were the results?
  6. been in a situation where you thought it was better to be dishonest? What did you do?
  7. had to follow a rule you didn’t agree with? What did you do?

What do you do when…

  1. faced with an unfamiliar problem?
  2. you are unsure about a customer’s request?
  3. your scheduled is interrupted?

Give me an example of…

  1. a goal you didn’t meet and how you handled it.
  2. how you set your goals and how you achieve them.
  3. a goal you reached and how you achieved it.
  4. an occasion where you used logic to solve a problem.

Describe a…

  1. decision you made that was unpopular and how you implemented it across the team.
  2. project that demonstrated your analytical skills.
  3. decision that you regretted.
  4. time when you saw a problem at work and how you solved it.
  5. time when you had to give a presentation without any preparation.
  6. time when you tried to solve a dispute within the team.
  7. time when a team member wasn’t doing their work efficiently.
  8. time when you experienced rapid change at work. How did you cope with it?
  9. time when you had to work with a remote coworker? What difficulties did you experience? How did you stay in touch?

There are no correct responses to behavioral interview questions. Your answer will depend on your past experiences. Your goal should be to provide real-life examples of your past behavior to give the potential employer a more accurate candidate profile.

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Priyansha Mistry
Currently editor at The HR Digest Magazine. She helps HR professionals identify issues with their talent management and employment law. | Priyansha tweets at @PriyanshaMistry

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