What Are Behavioral Interviews?
Behavioral interviews may be the most common way to assess a candidate’s potential for success in a job.
But what are they?
How do they work?
And why should you care about them?
Below, we’ll explore these questions and more as we take an in-depth look at behavioral interviews.
What Are Behavioral Interviews?
Behavioral interviews assess how candidates have reacted to specific, real-life situations in the past. They often start with, “can you tell me about a time when…”, which encourages candidates to provide a real-life example of how they’ve addressed challenges before and how they might tackle similar issues or projects at your workplace.
For example: "Tell me about a time when you had to manage multiple projects at once." This question gives candidates an opportunity to talk about their skills as well as their ability to communicate effectively with others (which is essential in many positions).
The idea is that a candidate’s responses to questions about previous experiences give interviewers insight into the candidate’s future behavior. Interviewers aren't just looking for the right answers; they're trying to assess how well a candidate fits the role they are applying for and how well they match the company culture.
What Do Behavioral Interviews Focus On?
Typically, behavioral interview questions focus on soft skills like leadership, organization, and communication skills — skills that are essential for success in many jobs today but may not be easily quantifiable by traditional metrics such as grades or years of experience alone.
Some hiring managers conduct behavioral interviews in the form of a written assignment, asking candidates to write about how they would deal with a hypothetical scenario. These prompts are specific, relevant to the job the candidate is applying to, and open-ended.
When Do Behavioral Interviews Take Place?
Although allowing candidates to describe and clarify their thinking in specific circumstances gives interviewers a sense of how candidates might conduct themselves day-to-day, it doesn’t necessarily showcase a candidate’s actual technical skills. That’s why behavioral interviews often come after a more technical screening, such as a coding test or case study.
Examples of Behavioral Interview Questions
Here are some examples of typical behavioral interview questions:
- When was the last time you failed? How did you overcome it?
- How do you set your goals or OKRs?
- Tell me about a time when you had to calm a furious customer.
- Tell me about a time when you had to work on an impossible deadline.
- When was the last time you had to give a peer or direct report difficult feedback? How did you handle it?
- Tell me about a decision you made that wasn’t popular among your colleagues. What happened?
- Tell me about how you disagree with others.
- Share an example of how you motivated your direct airports or teammates.
- What are you most proud of professionally?
- How do you deal with conflict?
- How do you build rapport with a client?
- How do you get information from a client, partner, or coworker who is non-responsive?
- How do you keep long-term projects on track?
- What do you do when your workload gets overwhelming?
- How do you handle micromanagement? How do you handle a hands-off manager?