Amidst the nuanced process of job interviews, where your future hinges on the impressions you leave, there exists a category of interview questions that holds a distinct and pivotal role: behavioural interview questions.

Far from the traditional “strengths and weaknesses” inquiries during the interview process, these questions possess a unique power – unveiling the true essence of who you are as a professional.

In the world of employment, it is not just about hard skills or the qualifications you bring to the table; it’s about how you apply that knowledge, solve problems and navigate the complexities of workplace dynamics.

Behavioural interview questions, designed to delve into your past experiences, soft skills, critical thinking abilities, time management skills, and decision-making, offer a profound glimpse into your emotional intelligence and your ability to handle real-life situations.

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Hiring managers ask them to gauge your adaptability, resilience, problem-solving acumen, and interpersonal skills – qualities that transcend mere technical competence.

While general interview questions are undoubtedly important, it is the mastery of behavioural questions that can set you apart in the fiercely competitive job market.

Employers seek not only to understand your capabilities but also to predict how you’ll contribute to their organisation’s culture and success.

In fact, some argue that these questions hold even greater significance than their conventional counterparts, for they provide a lens into the heart of your professional character.

So, as you embark on your career journey, remember that your ability to respond adeptly to behavioural interview questions can be the key to unlocking doors of opportunity.

Related: 5 ways to use negative feedback to your advantage

Behavioural job interview questions and answers

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Behavioural interview questions dive deep into your past actions and thought process, revealing how you handle situations and challenges, giving potential employers a better understanding of who you are as a team member, and as a leader, or potential leader.

The key to answering any behavioural question is to provide examples. Here are some common interview questions that you would likely encounter during your hiring process.

1. Describe a time when you had to overcome a difficult situation at work and how you managed it.

This interview question gauges your definition of a challenging situation and your problem-solving skills. Choose an instance not caused by you, detailing your actions to resolve it. Emphasise the positive outcome, lessons learned, and how your solutions improved overall performance.

Sample answer

“In my previous role as a project manager, we were nearing a project deadline when a key member of the team had a family emergency and couldn’t complete their tasks on time. This was a difficult situation as the tasks were specialised and crucial for project completion.

“I first reassessed our resources and realised another team member had partial knowledge in that area. I sat down with them and we mapped out a plan to divide the pending tasks.

“I also coordinated a brief training session where the absent team member could remotely guide the other team player on more complex issues. We also requested a minor extension on the deadline from the client, emphasising our commitment to quality.

“In the end, we completed the project with only a slight delay and maintained the quality standards. This situation taught me the importance of adaptability, cross-training, and clear communication during unexpected challenges.”

2. How do you respond to high-pressure situations?

This behavioural question is designed to understand how you stay focused in different, difficult and stressful situations. It is a chance to highlight how you solve problems and your ability to work well under pressure.

Sample answer

"In high-pressure situations, I prioritise and break down tasks into manageable steps. For instance, in my previous role, we faced an unexpected product issue right before a major launch.

“Instead of panicking, I organised an emergency team meeting. We listed out all the tasks, assigned them based on expertise, and set short-term milestones. I believe in open communication, so I kept all stakeholders informed about the progress and any changes.

“By focusing on the solution, maintaining a calm demeanour, and fostering team collaboration, we resolved the issue in time for the launch. These experiences have reinforced that staying organised and maintaining a positive attitude are essential in managing pressure effectively.”

3. What has been your greatest achievement to date?

Here, the interviewer is looking to see if you are a high performer and where you have excelled in your previous roles.

In this case, select a few recent accomplishments that are directly related to the job position, role and responsibilities wherever possible. Be precise, and quantify the action, the steps taken and the benefits you provided.

Sample answer

“One of my proudest achievements was during my tenure as a former sales manager and representative for XYZ Company. I was assigned an underperforming territory that had consistently lagged behind others in terms of sales.

“Recognising the potential, I initiated a comprehensive market analysis to identify gaps and opportunities. Based on this, I implemented a tailored strategy, which included targeted marketing campaigns and relationship-building initiatives with key clients.

“Within a year, not only did we turn around the performance of the territory, but we also achieved a 25% increase in sales, making it one of the top-performing regions for the company. This experience taught me the importance of proactive problem-solving, data-driven decision-making, and perseverance.”

Related: How to succeed in your first 90 days in a new job

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4. Tell me about a successful project and your role in it.

Hiring managers ask this behavioural question to evaluate your interpersonal skills, leadership skills and how you work with a team. Showcase your role with your previous employer, the project, and how you assisted your co-workers. Provide examples of communication, collaboration, teamwork and problem-solving.

Sample answer

"One of the most successful projects I’ve been involved with was the launch of the ABC product at XYZ Company. I served as the project lead, responsible for coordinating between the design, marketing, and engineering teams.

“From the onset, I established clear communication channels and set regular check-ins to ensure we were aligned on our milestones. I also implemented a risk management strategy, which helped us identify potential challenges early and devise solutions promptly.

“During the project, we faced a significant challenge when our primary supplier experienced a delay. Drawing on my relationships with alternate suppliers, I was able to source the required materials without impacting our launch timeline. The product was launched on schedule and exceeded sales expectations by 20% in the first quarter.

“This project taught me the importance of proactive planning, flexibility in the face of unforeseen challenges, and the value of maintaining strong professional relationships.”

Related: How to answer competency based interview questions

5. How do you handle disagreements with your colleagues or your manager?

This interview question probes your conflict resolution and communication skills at work. It’s essential to demonstrate diplomacy and tact, as teams thrive when members can address disagreements and reach a consensus.

Reflect on a situation where you and a colleague or manager resolved differing views through effective communication, leading to a collaborative solution.

Sample answer

"In my experience, disagreements are often a result of different perspectives. When I encounter disagreements with colleagues or managers, I prioritise open communication. First, I actively listen to their viewpoint to understand their concerns fully.

“By doing so, I often find areas of common ground. I then share my perspective, ensuring I present it as an alternative viewpoint rather than a contradiction. If needed, I seek feedback from other team members or suggest collaborative problem-solving sessions.

“This approach ensures that the final decision is well-informed and beneficial for the project or organisation. Importantly, I always maintain respect for everyone involved, understanding that diverse opinions often lead to the best solutions.”

6. Tell me about a situation where you had to handle a dissatisfied customer or client. How did you address their concerns and ensure their satisfaction?

When responding to this behavioural question, focus on demonstrating your ability to empathise, communicate effectively, and find constructive solutions to resolve customer issues. Your response should highlight your commitment to delivering excellent customer service and problem-solving skills.

Sample answer

“In a previous role, I encountered a dissatisfied customer who had received a faulty product. To address their concerns and ensure their satisfaction, I initiated a proactive approach.

“First, I empathised with the customer, acknowledging their frustration. Then, I assured them that I would personally oversee the resolution.

“I promptly investigated the issue, involving relevant departments to pinpoint the root cause. Once we identified the problem, I presented the customer with a clear plan for resolution, which included a replacement product and expedited delivery.

“Throughout the process, I maintained open communication with the customer, providing regular updates on the progress. This transparency helped rebuild trust. Ultimately, the customer received the replacement product promptly, and their satisfaction was restored.

“This experience taught me the importance of empathy, swift problem-solving, and effective communication in handling dissatisfied customers.”

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7. Describe a time when you had to multitask and manage multiple projects or tasks simultaneously. How did you stay organised and meet all your deadlines?

For this question, you should emphasise your time management, organisational skills, and ability to prioritise effectively. Hiring managers want to assess your capability to handle a demanding workload efficiently.

Sample answer

“In a fast-paced role, I often had to juggle multiple projects simultaneously. To stay organised and meet all deadlines, I implemented a systematic approach. I started by creating a detailed task list, prioritising based on deadlines and importance.

“I then allocated specific time blocks for each task, ensuring I had uninterrupted periods for focused work. Additionally, I used project management software to track progress and set reminders.

“Regular check-ins with my team helped maintain alignment and address any roadblocks. By maintaining a disciplined schedule, staying adaptable, and leveraging technology, I successfully managed multiple projects, meeting all deadlines effectively.”

8. Share an example of a time when you demonstrated leadership skills or influenced a positive change within your team or organisation.

Answering the behavioural job interview question about demonstrating leadership skills and driving positive change within a team or organisation is crucial. It showcases your ability to lead, collaborate, and make a meaningful impact – a key aspect employers look for.

Sample answer

“In a previous job, I noticed a need for process improvement within our team. I took the initiative to propose changes that could enhance efficiency and collaboration. I organised meetings to present my ideas, involving team members in the discussion.

“I listened to their feedback, incorporated valuable insights, and created an action plan. As the project lead, I assigned roles, set clear goals, and ensured open communication. Through this collaborative effort, we implemented the changes, resulting in improved productivity and a more cohesive team environment.

“This experience highlighted my ability to lead, inspire change, and foster teamwork, ultimately contributing to positive outcomes.”

9. Describe a time when you had to take the lead on a project or initiative. How did you motivate your team, set goals, and achieve success?

Answering the job interview question about taking the lead on a project or initiative is important for showcasing your leadership abilities. It demonstrates your capacity to inspire a team, establish objectives, and attain success – qualities highly sought after by employers.

Sample answer

“When tasked with leading a critical project, I began by setting clear goals and defining roles within the team. I ensured that each team member understood their responsibilities and the project’s importance. To motivate the team, I emphasised the project’s impact and its alignment with our organisational objectives.

“Regular team meetings allowed us to track progress, discuss challenges, and celebrate achievements. I encouraged open communication and provided support when team members faced obstacles.

“By maintaining a collaborative and supportive environment, we successfully completed the project on time and exceeded our initial goals. This experience reinforced my leadership skills and ability to drive projects to success.”

10. Give me an example of a situation where you had to meet a tight deadline. How did you manage your time and prioritise tasks to meet the deadline successfully?

Employers seek individuals who can demonstrate time management and task prioritisation skills under pressure, as your answer would demonstrates your ability to thrive in fast-paced environments.

Sample answer

“I began by breaking the project into smaller, manageable tasks. I prioritised these tasks based on their impact on the overall goal and created a timeline.

“To stay focused, I minimised distractions and allocated specific time slots for each task. Regular progress checks ensured I remained on track.

“I also communicated with team members, delegating tasks when possible and aligning our efforts. Through effective time management, prioritisation, and collaboration, I met tight deadlines and delivered quality results.

“These experiences underscored the importance of adaptability and resourcefulness when facing challenging timelines.”

If you’re looking for a new job, contact a Michael Page specialist recruiter today.

Read more:
4 things recruiters want to see in your resume
Tips to stay motivated during your job search
Confidence, influence and loving your job: Stories from female leaders

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