Interviews are by no means easy to ace. Where questions aimed at job description are concerned, candidates can usually handle them with a little bit of research.
Since these questions are primarily aimed at finding out what a candidate knows about the position he or she has applied for, it is a given that candidates prepare for them beforehand.
However, where behavioral interview questions are concerned, many candidates fail to impress prospective employers. Most of our concentration is usually on how much we know about the job that we are about to be interviewed for.
We tend to forget that job knowledge is not all that an employer is looking for. How an individual will behave once he or she is hired is also of great importance since there are customers to think about.
So what do behavioral interview questions target?
They target many things including an individual’s ability to work with peers, handle customers and manage stressful situations. All these are ingredients of a good employee.
Some examples of behavioral interview questions (and their answers) and their types are given below.
Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers
Tell us about a significant change that occurred in your previous job. How did you adapt? (Adaptability)
I was working as a customer services supervisor for five years. One day I was told that there were some “structural changes” in the present hierarchy and that a manager was being hired to whom I will be required to report to. Since all my reporting was done to the director, this made me feel very insecure. However, I managed to be adult about the situation and gracefully accept my new role. I did not take it personally and managed to work just as successfully as I was earlier.
Can you tell us about some project or idea that you were involved in which was successful primarily due to your efforts? (Ambition)
I was wholly engaged in this marketing project. Our challenge was to market a food product to an adult audience that was initially only used by children. It seemed almost impossible to come up with plausible ways to sell it. So I suggested a tagline which I believe helped in lifting it off the ground and making it successful. The slogan was “Enjoy It with Your Little Ones.”
Describe a project that you worked on which demonstrated your analytic abilities. (Analytic Thinking)
The company that I was working for was involved in a very complex project that required much research before the takeoff phase. While the research was handled quite well by the concerned project members, statistical data was not adequately analyzed so there was much delay in the takeoff. For the longest time, we could not figure out what we needed to look at to make things workable. After much deliberation, I managed to figure out that we were not incorporating information derived from a specific survey into the project planning.
Tell us about a time when you had to handle an angry customer. How did you handle the situation? (Relationship Building)
Once a regular customer had not realized that the carpet he was buying from us was not hand woven despite the tag explicitly stating “machine made”. He called me and complained. He was furious and wanted a refund. Since the company did not have a refund policy, I explained very politely that a customer is required to see all aspects of purchase before he makes payments. I promised him a good discount on his next purchase since he was a regular customer. He was placated.
Give me an example of your work experience where you demonstrated leadership skills?
Last year I was assigned a team project regarding the promotional campaign of a newly launched product. Being the team leader I allocated the duties as per each team member’s choice and aptitude and monitored their work. The project turned out very well.
Share an example where you handled a difficult situation?
Last year it so happened that the marketing manager went on leave during a hectic season and I was requested to look at his department for a fortnight. Being working in my own department’s operations, I found it very difficult to manage a whole extra department. I handled the situation by conducting daily coordination meetings with the marketing team and chalked out each team member’s tasks and targets for the given period. With the leverage of exceptional organizational and communication skills, I was able to handle the additional workload effectively.
What would you do if two colleagues were arguing?
I’d try my best to stay out of it. If it gets severe or loud, I would report to the supervisor. In case I find myself already dragged into it, I will not take sides and while maintaining a neutral disposition, will try to calm down both parties.
When teamed up with a colleague you don’t get along very well, how do you handle things?
I usually get along well with other people, but if I am teamed up with someone having a very different work style, I always prefer breaking the task into chunks and dividing the workload so each of us can work in their fashion comfortably and hold daily coordination meetings to share the progress with each other.
If assigned a project with a stringent deadline, what do you do?
I will divide the task and then prioritize the sections and develop a priority based timeline to follow. This way in case the whole mission is not achieved (which has never happened so far) at least the most important task is done on time.
Describe a situation in which you differed on a matter with your boss. What did you do?
Last year I was working on a project expansion task, and the plan of action developed by the boss was a bit impractical. I went straight to him, told him what I thought and supported my claims with valid statistics. I talked him into making a few changes finally.