Behavioural Interview Questions

Behavioural Interview Questions and Answers To Help You Prepare

Behavioural  interview questions are now commonly employed by all types of companies across all levels of hiring – from a fresher intern to a CXO. It is estimated that for experienced recruiters as many as 80% of the interview questions are actually behavioural questions. Behavioural interview questions are based on the philosophy that candidate’s past actions and behaviour is a good indicator of his or her future behaviour.

Behavioural  interview questions definitely need prior practice to rightly answer, this article is going to help you in step by step manner to prepare.

What are Behavioural  Job Interview Questions?

A behavioural  interview question (also called as STAR Interview Question) is a question that aims at learning about candidate’s “past behavior” in specific work – life situation. 

The interviewer will typically ask how you would handle a particular situation, and you will be expected to respond with an explanation of what you did. The logic is that your success (or failure) in past is a potential indicator of your success (or failure) in future. How you have “behaved” in certain situations gives interviewer clues on how you’ll behave in similar situations in the future.


Behavioural interview questions differ from typical interview questions as they focus more on experiences, behaviours, knowledge, skills and abilities. Rather than asking a typical question “Do you have leadership skills” a behavioural interview question is framed as “Give us an example from your previous assignment when you displayed your leadership abilities.”

How to Prepare for Behavioural  Job Interview Questions?

The best way to begin preparing for behavioural interview questions is to look at the job description / requirements of the position you are applying for. List down skills that they would require for the job. These are the skills interviewer can be expected to focus on. If the job description for the position mentions that candidate should have good negotiation skills, it is more than likely that this will be turned into a behavioural question to see if you do have these skills.

Ideally to master behavioural interview, one should begin with Job Analysis. This will help you figure out areas where interview questions can be expected to focus on. You should ask yourself questions like :

1. What are the necessary required skills for this job?

2. What skills would makes a successful candidate?

3. What behaviour traits would make an unsuccessful candidate?

4. Why people leave these positions usually ?

5. What are the most difficult aspects of this job?

This would help you list down skill like – leadership, team building, decision making and problem solving, motivation, interpersonal skills, communication, planning and organization, ability to influence others, critical thinking skills etc.  

Once you have listed down skills for the job, ideally you should :

  1. Identify 8 – 10 examples from your past experience where you demonstrated top behaviors and skills that employers typically seek for the job. These examples should help you exploit your top selling points.
  2. Half of your examples should be positive, such as accomplishments or meeting goals
  3. The remaining half should be situations that started out negatively but either ended positively or you made the best of the outcome.
  4. If you decide to include failures; you must carefully list down what you learnt from them
  5. Vary your examples; don't take them all from just one area of your life.
  6. Use mostly recent examples. If you are a fresher just out of college, examples from school may be too long ago.


How to successfully answer behavioural interview questions ?

The best way to answer a behavioural interview question is to use what is popularly known as STAR format.

Behavioural  Interview Questions and Sample Answers

Here are select few important behavioural  interview questions you may be asked during an interview. Read the responses, assimilate the approach used and accordingly frame your answers in your own words. Don't memorize answers, but use the framework along with your know personal experiences and use the mix to develop the answer for the interviewer.

1. Tell me about an incidence when you delivered results under pressure.

I had been working on a project for a very prestigious client of company that was scheduled for delivery to the client in 60 days. Due to some business requirements, the client asked us to speed it up and be ready in 45 days, while keeping the scope of project same. I used the opportunity to make it into a challenge for my team, and we effectively added 2 hours a day to each of our schedules and got the job done in 42 days by sharing the workload and without adding more resources to the project.

2. How did you handled a challenging situation ? Give me an example.

Last month, my boss had to take an unexpected leave for his personal reasons, and we were left in the middle of an important negotiation with a new client. He asked me to put together a PowerPoint presentation just from the notes he had left, and some briefing from him. My presentation turned out successfully- we signed up the client, and my company recommended me for employee of the quarter award. 

3. Have you ever made a mistake? Give me a recent example ?

Last month in a quotation I misquoted the prices for a particular service, the difference was about 10% lower. I explained my mistake to my immediate supervisor, who appreciated my coming to him, and my honesty. He said, we still had enough margin and not to worry, since he had kept some extra cushion for negotiations. We won the contract without negotiations, but I felt bad that I had made a mistake, I learned to pay close attention to the details so as to give accurate information in the future.

4. Give an example of a goal you set for yourself and you achieved. Tell me how you achieved it.

When I started working for ABC Company, I wanted to get Employee of the Month award. It was a personal motivational challenge, I really wanted my picture on the wall. I went out of my way on my responsibilities towards my colleagues, seniors and customers - which I would have done anyway. My efforts were noticed with increased revenues and positive appreciation that I received. In my third month, I got the honor. It was good to achieve my goal, and it actually helped me in moving into a managerial position pretty quickly.

5. Describe a difficult decision you had to make, one that wasn't popular and how you handled implementing it.

Once, I inherited a team of white collar employees when their team leader left the job. They were a undisciplined bunch and would exchange each other’s shifts without any approval. I didn’t like this free for all scenario, where some worked over time and others were not given opportunities.  I introduced a policy where I had my assistant approve all these changes, to make sure that everyone who wanted extra hours was given equal opportunity and a fair chance.

Frequently Asked Behavioural Interview Questions

  1. What is the biggest contribution you have made in your previous job ?
  2. Tell me an example when you failed to meet a client’s expectation. What went wrong ?
  3. Tell me about a time when you missed to see an obvious solution to a important problem.
  4. Describe a work situation when you were forced to work with a colleague whom you don’t like for some reasons
  5. Describe an incidence when you struggled to build a relationship with someone important in your organization. What did you do ?
  6. Tell me about a time you wish you had handled a situation differently with someone.
  7. Tell me about a situation you needed to urgently get information from a client who wasn’t very responsive. how did you managed ?
  8. Tell me an example when you won over a customer with your service.
  9. Tell me an example of a time when you failed ? what went wrong ? who was to be blamed ?
  10. Tell me about a conflict you faced while working in a team. How did you handled it ?
  11. When you’re working on a large number of sales leads, it’s tricky to convert all of them. How do you go about prioritizing them ?
  12. Tell me about a time you failed to deliver results. How did you dealt with that situation?
  13. Tell me about a situation you were put under a lot of work related pressure. What happened, and how did you handled it?
  14. Describe a Situation Where You Disagreed With your boss. How did you went about it ?
  15. Describe a long-term project that you delivered successfully. How did you kept a track of milestones and managed being on time ?
  16. Give an example of a goal you set but failed to achieve ? what went wrong ? whose fault was it ?
  17. Tell me about a situation where you have had to handle an irate customer
  18. Tell me an example of a problem you had with your boss and how did you resolved it
  19. Do you think that you work well under pressure? If yes, describe a time when you have done so…
  20. Did you ever had to make changes or adjustment to your working style ? when ? why ?
  21. Describe a situation when it was very important for you to make a good impression on a client or senior management. How did you went about it ?
  22. Tell me about an incidence when you did not put in 100% into your job. What went wrong ? who was to be blamed ?
  23. Discuss a setback you have overcome in your career
  24. Tell me about a time you had a conflict at work. How did you handled it ?
  25. Give me an example of a time when you motivated your team. How did you did it ?
  26. Tell me about a time where you had to delegate tasks during a project. How did you ensured that you got the desired outcome ?
  27. Give me an example of when you took the initiative and delivered results.
  28. Tell me about an professional accomplishment that you are very proud of.
  29. Tell me about your first job. How did you learnt the ropes?
  30. Tell me about a stressful day in your last job. How did you overcame the situation


Note how all these questions are trying to find out how you behaved in the past in a given situation and your answers will help the interviewer predict how you will behave in the future, if you work for them. So in summary you now know:

Now you are ready to successfully take on any behavioural  question that comes your way in your next job interview.

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