Before we delve into the tips for acing your behavioral interview, you need to ensure that you review your resume thoroughly and be ready to present specific examples relating to your experiences and accomplishments by making sure that they match the interviewer’s expectations.
- Put to use the STAR method: Situation, Task, Action, and Result to frame your answers. Briefly describe the situation, your tasks and objectives, your actions, and the results you achieved.
- Be honest and genuine in your answers. Interviewers can detect dishonesty.
- Ask for clarification if needed before answering a question. Ensure that you understand the specific experience the interviewer wants to learn about.
- Share how you collaborated with others, handled challenges, and learned from your experiences. Soft skills and continuous self-improvement are valued.
Become job-ready by mastering the following behavioral interview questions, frequently asked by recruiters. Here we will guide you with the knowledge and confidence to excel in interviews and secure your dream job.
Q1. Can you tell me about a time when you had to decide something instantly in a crucial situation?
Q2. If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
Q3. If you had a superpower, what would it be, and why?
Q4. If you were a puzzle, what kind would you be?
Q5. What bug would you like to be reincarnated as?
Q6. How would you describe the color yellow to someone who is blind?
Q7. What movie or book character would you be, and why?
Q8. Would you rather live 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future? Why?
Q9. If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be, and why?
Q10. If you were a crayon, what color would you be, and why?
We have categorized the Top Behavioral Interview Questions into the following three sections:
1. Basic Behavioral Interview Questions
2. Intermediate Behavioral Interview Questions
3. Advanced Behavioral Interview Questions
Basic Behavioral Interview Questions
1. Can you tell me about a time when you had to decide something instantly in a crucial situation?
Thinking quickly under pressure is one of my strengths. Last year, our company website went down for over an hour during peak traffic. Our CEO asked me to get it up and running immediately. I was quick on my feet as I evaluated the situation, identified the issue, and worked with our hosting provider to reroute traffic to our backup site until the leading site was restored. Fortunately, our website traffic and revenue were minimally impacted.
2. If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
An owl is an animal that I admire; it displays some traits that would be useful in a work environment. Owls are wise, observant, and efficient. Moreover they are great problem solvers when hunting prey and navigating their environment. I want to imitate some of those qualities in my work: to constantly observe and learn, efficiently solve problems, and make wise decisions based on available information.
3. If you had a superpower, what would it be, and why?
If I had a superpower, I would choose the ability to fly. Having an aerial view of the world would provide a unique perspective. The freedom to navigate in three dimensions would inspire creativity and innovative thinking. As an employee, a “bird’s eye view” allows you to see the broader scope and bigger picture of issues and think of solutions that account for the comprehensive system, not just the components. The ability to fly would be a metaphor for achieving greater heights in my work.
4. If you were a puzzle, what kind would you be?
I am a Rubik’s cube. My personality, skills, and experiences have many sides and dimensions. At first glance, those attributes may seem mismatched or chaotic. However, with time and patience, all the pieces can form a comprehensive and unified picture. Solving complex challenges is what motivates and excites me. So I think that a Rubik’s cube is an apt metaphor for the “puzzle” I aim to solve as an employee.
5. What bug would you like to be reincarnated as?
I would like to be reincarnated as a butterfly. The metamorphosis from a caterpillar to a butterfly is a powerful symbol of transformation and growth. As an employee, continuous learning and self-improvement have been priorities in my career. I started in an entry-level role years ago. Through hard work, training, and gaining more experience, I have spread my wings into more senior positions with increasing responsibility. This seems like a caterpillar evolving into a butterfly. I can adapt to change and maintain a sense of grace, beauty, and curiosity about the world.
6. How would you describe the color yellow to someone who is blind?
The color yellow is bright, warm, and cheerful, like the sun’s warm glow on your face. The color yellow is associated with positive feelings of happiness, optimism, and energy. The bold, vibrant shade of yellow powers attention and uplifts moods. That’s how I would capture the spirit of the color yellow for someone without a visual sense.
7. What movie or book character would you be, and why?
I would choose to be the character Atticus Finch from the book To Kill A Mockingbird. Atticus is a lawyer who is intelligent, courageous, and morally upright. He accepts the difficulties of his circumstances but still stands up for what is right through his actions and words.
As a father, he cultivates a sense of moral conscience in his children and community. Atticus demonstrates leadership, wisdom, and dignity. These are some of the attributes I admire and would aim for in any role or position.
8. Would you rather live 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future? Why?
I would choose to live 100 years in the future. Living in the past, I would miss out on all of the technological and social progress we have made as a society in the past century. While it may be interesting to experience life in a different era, the future holds more promise for continued innovation to solve significant challenges we still face today, like sustainable energy solutions, cures for diseases, and more breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and automation. Furthermore, the future is more diverse, open-minded, and full of potential yet unknown experiences I could never foresee today. My curiosity about what the next 100 years may bring and the knowledge and global connectivity that will emerge make the future a more compelling place to explore in theory. Although I look at historical periods with nostalgia, I prefer to charge confidently ahead into the future.
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9. If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be, and why?
I would be a pineapple. Pineapples are sweet and tropical fruits. They symbolize warmth and are refreshing. Moreover, they are prickly on the outside but sweet on the inside. It is similar to how I am: I am reserved upon first meeting someone, but I am friendly and helpful once I develop a relationship. Pineapples are known for their nutritional benefits and how they enhance and brighten whatever they are added to. It is also similar to how I strive to positively impact those around me with my knowledge, skills, and attitude.
10. If you were a crayon, what color would you be, and why?
I would be a gold-colored crayon. Gold symbolizes achievement, value, and wisdom. Challenges are opportunities to grow and achieve more in my career. I strive to create high value through my work. Over time, through both successes and failures, I have gained knowledge and insight that I try to apply to future situations. The color gold represents all of these attributes.
Intermediate Behavioral Interview Questions
11. What did you want to be when you were younger? What details or steps did you take to achieve that dream?
When I was younger, I dreamed of becoming an astronaut. I was fascinated with space travel and exploration. I focused on my math, science, and physics studies to pursue this dream. I also learned how to fly single-engine planes to experience what it felt like to be up in the air and maneuver a craft.
After graduating from university, I applied to the NASA space program. Unfortunately, I did not meet the qualifications to become an astronaut at the time due to my poor eyesight and lack of prior experience. I was disappointed, although I was determined to work in a space-related field. I went on to work as an engineer for a major aerospace company, helping them design control systems and components for space shuttles.
Although becoming an astronaut was not my final career destination, the dream inspired me early on to push myself in math and science, follow my curiosity about how things work, and develop a growth mindset toward achieving challenging goals. My life path since that early dream has been very fulfilling and impactful. Though the specifics of the dream changed, the perseverance and passion behind it live on in how I approach all of my endeavors.
12. Sell me this pen (or an item on your desk).
Your pitch should highlight specific features and benefits of the pen in an enthusiastic storytelling style while conveying qualities and values that resonate with a potential customer.
This is no ordinary pen. This ballpoint pen is an inspired writing instrument that will change how you get your ideas onto paper. Its smooth-flowing ink creates flawless lines with no skips or smears. The lightweight yet durable design sits perfectly balanced in your hand for enhanced control and comfort.
However, this pen offers more than just an upgraded writing experience. Its minimalist yet timeless style reflects your straightforward and focused approach to your work. The blue ink adds subtle vitality and creativity with every word.
A single stroke of genius could strike at any moment. When inspiration hits, you’ll be ready to capture every detail smoothly with this remarkable pen. For less than $1, this pen provides an exponential return on investment by transforming your thoughts into timeless prose and poetry.
Act now, and I’ll include a special bonus offer of an extra refill cartridge—a refill cartridge worth $2.99 completely free! However, act fast, as supplies of this life-changing pen are limited. After today, your chance to experience enlightened, effortless writing may be gone forever. How many of these ultimate pens would you like to purchase today?
13. Picture yourself in this situation: You are on your way to an important meeting and your car breaks down. What would you do?
I would call the client to reschedule the appointment. Following which, I would put in a call to roadside assistance or a tow truck. I would stay calm, focus on resolving the situation promptly, and avoid being late.
14. You wake up 30 minutes late for work. What steps do you take to minimize the impact?
Get ready quickly, skipping optional morning routines. Call or message my manager to apologize and inform them that I will arrive late. Explain the situation honestly but without unnecessary details. Hurry into work, minimizing distractions and focusing on high-priority tasks to catch up quickly. Work through lunch or stay late to make up for lost time. Take responsibility for the oversight and put in extra effort to avoid any lasting impact.
15. You find $10 on the ground while walking to an important meeting. What do you do?
I would pick up the $10 bill and hold onto it if someone came looking for it. After the meeting, I would ask nearby staff if they had lost any money recently. If no one claims it, I would donate the found money to a charity or drop it in a donation box rather than keep it for myself. While it’s a small amount, it’s still not mine to keep, so I would make an effort first to locate the rightful owner before donating it to a good cause.
16. You're on an important call with a client when your internet goes down. What do you do?
I would remain calm and polite while apologizing to the client for the technical difficulties. I will get their meeting details and promise to follow up as soon as possible to continue the discussion. I would then contact the internet service provider to report the issue and get an estimated timeline for resolution. Once back online, I would immediately call the client, thank them for their patience, and continue the meeting. I would also report the internet downtime to the relevant teams to diagnose and prevent future occurrences.
17. How would you respond if a coworker yelled at you in front of others?
I would stay composed and listen to their concerns, then request to continue the discussion privately. Once alone, I would listen again to understand the root cause of their anger, acknowledge their feelings and diffuse the situation. I would repeat their concerns to ensure that I have the complete picture, then clarify any misunderstandings. I would also explain my perspective calmly and suggest a compromise. If emotions are still high, I will suggest revisiting the discussion once tensions have cooled to have a more productive conversation. I will aim to remain professional and attempt to turn this into an opportunity to strengthen the relationship and work environment.
Advanced Behavioral Interview Questions
18. Select a famous leader and share how you aspire to develop leadership qualities like them. Explain with examples.
I aspire to develop leadership qualities like that of Malala Yousafzai’s. As the world’s youngest Nobel laureate, she advocates for human rights through education, especially for girls and women. Here are some of her leadership qualities that I would seek to emulate:
- Bravery in adversity
Malala continued championing women’s rights even after facing threats and an assassination attempt. She did not let fear hold her back from her mission. I would aim to show courage in the face of challenges and setbacks at work.
- Passion for purpose
She is intensely devoted to fighting for equal access to education. I aspire to lead passionately for the organization’s vision and purpose.
- Giving voice to important causes
Malala is an influential spokesperson who goes out of her way to speak up for human rights and education. Like her, I would advocate for important issues with employees, customers, and other relevant stakeholders.
19. You must lay off one team member due to budget cuts. How would you handle this sensitive situation?
I would handle this situation with empathy, honesty, and compassion. I would approach it in the following manner:
- Meet with the HR and finance teams to understand the full picture and reasons behind the layoff before moving forward.
- Plan how and when to sensitively communicate the news of the layoff with the impacted employee. Schedule time for a private, in-person meeting.
- Be transparent about the organizational reasons for the layoff while expressing sincere regret that their role has been affected. Provide official notification in writing.
- Give the employee a fair split package to assist their transition. Offer resources like career coaching or resume assistance.
20. Recount an experience you had working with a diverse group.
I had to work with people from different cultural backgrounds and with different communication styles while working on a project. I had to be respectful, open-minded, and willing to learn from others to ensure that we could work effectively as a team.
21. One day, you wake up with an ability to become invisible. What would be the first thing you do with this superpower?
Without doubt, I would sneak into Area 51 to uncover the truth about aliens and UFOs! The power of invisibility would allow me a chance to reveal secrets and mysteries without getting caught.
22. If you could live anywhere, where would you live, and why?
I would live on a space station orbiting Earth! Space has been a fascinating element for me, for as long as I can remember. Living on a space station would allow me to experience space in a way that is impossible from Earth. I would see majestic views of the Earth, gaze at the stars without atmospheric distortion, and even float around in microgravity! I believe it would be an incredible opportunity.
23. If you could instantly become fluent in any language, what would it be? Why?
I would become fluent in Mandarin Chinese. Being fluent in Mandarin would open up opportunities to connect with over 1 billion Chinese speakers worldwide. I would use this skill to build cultural bridges, do business in China, immerse myself in the richness of Chinese arts and history, read classical Chinese literature in its original form, and gain insights into a truly ancient and fascinating civilization. The potential benefits of learning Mandarin in today’s global world are hugely impactful.
24. Can you describe a time when you had a conflict with a coworker or manager?
I disagreed with a coworker over the approach to a particular project. I listened to their perspective and shared my ideas, and we came up with a compromise that satisfied both of us and resulted in a successful project outcome.
25. Recount an experience when you had to deliver a presentation to a large audience. How did you prepare for the same, and what was its outcome?
I prepared extensively by researching my topic, practicing my delivery, and seeking peer feedback. The presentation was well received, and I received positive feedback from attendees.
26. How would you motivate a group of disengaged colleagues?
First, I would speak to people individually to understand why they seem disengaged and get their input. Then, I’d make it a priority to address any obstacles or frustrations within my control. I will plan a team event away from work to help build closer connections. During meetings, I’d offer opportunities for everyone to share their voices and recognize contributions to make people feel valued. Morale is hard to improve overnight, so maintaining an open and supportive environment where people feel heard and respected time and time again is key. With time and consistency, motivating active listening, encouraging empowerment, and strengthening the bonds can turn disengagement into meaningful engagement.
27. Can you give me an example of a time when you had to persuade someone to see things your way?
In a previous job, I had to persuade a coworker to adopt a new approach to a project. I presented my ideas with data and evidence, listened to their concerns, and ultimately convinced them to try the new approach, which resulted in a successful project outcome.
28. Discuss a time when you had to resolve a dispute between two parties. How did you approach the situation and resolve the conflict?
Two colleagues had a disagreement that began to affect team dynamics. I met with each person to understand their concerns in confidence. I then brought them together, summarized each perspective objectively, and suggested that we need to resolve this pleasantly for our working relationship and productivity. I facilitated an open conversation to find common ground and compromise. Although there was tension initially, there was also a willingness to resolve the conflict. By identifying key interests and concerns, we negotiated an agreement and plan to improve communication going forward. With time, the relationship was mended as trust was rebuilt.
29. Tell me about a time when you had to work with limited resources.
During my tenure with my previous company, I once had to work on a project with limited resources. For this, I prioritized my tasks and focused on the most critical elements of the project, due to which I was able to meet our goals despite the constraints.
30. Describe a time when you had to coach or mentor someone. How did you approach it, and what was the outcome?
Why the interviewer asks this: To assess your coaching and mentoring skills.
I noticed that a new team member was struggling to grasp some key concepts. I scheduled time to sit down with her, asked open-ended questions to determine where the knowledge gaps were, and provided concrete examples to illustrate the concepts. We set up a weekly meeting so that I could provide guidance and encouragement. Over the next month, she made noticeable improvements and soon excelled in her role. The keys were giving her my time and focused attention, listening to understand the issues, and providing nurturing support.
Discuss a challenging work situation you were part of. What was the situation, what made it so challenging, and how did you handle it?
Why the interviewer asks this: To assess your definition of challenging, your attitude toward difficulties at work, and your approach to problem-solving.
Additional: Discuss a time when you led by example. What did you do, and what was the outcome?
Why the interviewer asks this: To understand your leadership qualities and assess your ability to motivate others through your own behaviors and actions.