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Behavioral Questions and How to Answer Them

Blog / December 5, 2019

The point of behavioral interview questions is to find out how you’ve handled certain work situations in the past, as though they’re indicative of how you’ll behave in the future. The interviewers want to know details about your skills, personality, and abilities in hopes they can predict how you’ll perform at their company. They might inquire about how you handle pressure, how you manage stress, how you dealt with mistakes and failures, how you handle conflict, and how your work on a team. To prepare for these questions, have several real-life stories that showcase your skills and abilities. Here are some common behavioral questions and strategies to answer them.

Use the STAR technique

The STAR technique is a good way to answer questions about your past experiences.  First, describe the Situation. Next, explain that Task you were asked to complete. Then, describe the Action that you took—what did you actually do? And finally, tell the interviewer what happened as a Result of your action. Focus on how your actions benefited the company. 

Describe a past conflict

Hiring managers don’t want an employee who causes workplace turmoil. Choose a past situation when someone else was the instigator and explain what you did to resolve the conflict. Show that you were mature and respectful. A story about a mended relationship that resulted in more effective teamwork and greater productivity would be perfect!

Explain how you handle stress

Show that pressure situations don’t paralyze you. If you get overwhelmed to the point that you can’t function, no one will hire you. Think of a time when you successfully met a tight deadline or gave a presentation to an important client. How was your company better thanks to your calm composure?

Discuss a lesson learned from failure

Employers want to see that you can take responsibility for your actions and learn from your mistakes. Think of an error you made at work. Did you own up to it? Were you able to resolve the issue so that everyone was satisfied? What did you learn from that mistake?

Describe when you solved a problem

Prove that you’re creative and the have critical thinking skills necessary to handle any challenge that pops up.

Talk about your successes as a team

Demonstrate that you work well with others. Tell a story that shows you can collaborate with your coworkers, communicate effectively, and are willing to share team tasks, credit, and blame.

As you prepare for your interview, reread the job description and try to match stories about yourself that prove you have the necessary skills and experiences. If you have one story that demonstrates each of the above qualities, you’ll be ready. Don’t forget that your stories should be factual—they’ll be relatively easy for a hiring manager to verify as he calls your references. For more advice on preparing for an interview, check out our website at

Blog written by Erin Greenhalgh