Former Amazon and Apple hiring manager, interviewer, senior Marketing and Sales leader. Co-founder of Day One Careers, mentor, interview and leadership coach.
Behavioral interviews have become increasingly popular among hiring managers to gauge a job candidate’s potential future performance based on past experiences. Knowing how to prepare for a behavioral interview and tackle behavioral interview questions effectively is essential as a job seeker. This comprehensive guide will provide in-depth information on behavioral job interview questions and how to excel in behavioral interviews and secure your desired job.
Table of contents
- Part 1: Understanding Behavioral Interviews
- Part 2: Preparing for the Behavioral Interview
- Part 3: Common Behavioral Interview Questions and Sample Answers (Summaries)
- Give me an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult co-worker
- Describe a time when you had to adapt to a significant change in your work environment
- Give me an example of a time when you had to use critical thinking skills to solve a problem
- Tell me about a time when you had to juggle multiple projects and prioritize your workload
- Part 4: Tips for Acing the Behavioral Interview
- Part 5: Conclusion
- Part 6 – Bonus: Additional Behavioral Interview Questions With Example Summary Answers
- Can you describe a situation where you had to work with a difficult team member or coworker? How did you handle it?
- How do you handle stressful situations or tight deadlines? Can you provide an example of when you were under pressure and how you managed it?
- Describe a situation where you had to take the initiative or be proactive to solve a problem. How did you identify the issue, and what actions did you take?
- Can you give an example of when you had to communicate complex information to a non-expert? How did you ensure they understood the message?
- Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a significant change in your work environment or job role. How did you adjust, and what strategies did you use?
- Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a significant change in your work environment or job role. How did you adjust and what strategies did you use?
Part 1: Understanding Behavioral Interviews
Behavioral interviews are designed to assess a job candidate’s skills, competencies, and personality traits through a series of behavioral interview questions. These questions typically start with phrases such as “give me an example” or “describe a time when” and require job candidates to share specific examples of past situations to demonstrate their abilities.
Hiring managers often rely on behavioral interviews as they believe past performance indicates future performance. By better understanding how you have handled similar situations in the past, they can better predict how you will perform in the role for which you are interviewing.
Behavioral interviews came from academia in the early 1980s, and numerous research papers have validated their superiority over traditional interview questions. Almost all Fortune 500 businesses use behavioral interview questions to interview job candidates on leadership and, sometimes, functional skills. It’s safe to say that behavioral interviews are here to stay.
Part 2: Preparing for the Behavioral Interview
Research the company and the role
Before you can effectively prepare for a behavioral interview, you need to clearly understand the company and the role you are applying for. Study the job description carefully and identify the critical skills, qualifications, and responsibilities required for the position. Additionally, study the company values and, if you can find them, its “core competencies.” This will help you anticipate the types of behavioral interview questions that may be asked and tailor your responses accordingly.
Review your own experiences
Once you have a solid understanding of the role and the skills it requires, take the time to review your own experiences. Think about situations in which you have demonstrated these skills or faced challenges similar to those described in the job description or the company’s values. This will provide a solid foundation for answering behavioral interview questions during the interview.
Prepare your answers using the STAR method
The STAR method stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. It is widely recognized for structuring answers to behavioral interview questions and provides a clear and concise framework for your responses. When answering a behavioral interview question, describe the situation you faced, what you were aiming to accomplish, your actions, and the results or outcomes of your actions.
For example, if a hiring manager asks you to “give me an example of a time when you had to manage multiple projects with tight deadlines,” you might respond with the following hypothetical story:
Situation: “In my last job, I worked at XYZ Company, where I was responsible for overseeing the execution of three major projects simultaneously, namely Project Alpha, Project Beta, and Project Gamma, all with aggressive timelines.”
Task: “My task was to ensure that all projects were completed on time, within budget, and met the client’s expectations. For Project Alpha, my objective was to deliver it two weeks ahead of schedule and save the company $50,000 in costs. For Project Beta, my objective was to complete it within the allocated budget of $100,000. For Project Gamma, my objective was to receive high accolades from the client, which would lead to a contract extension worth $100,000 for the company.”
Action: “To accomplish these objectives, I developed a detailed project plan for each specific project part, prioritized tasks, and assigned responsibilities to team members based on their strengths and availability. For instance, for Project Alpha, I assigned Mr. John as a project manager, responsible for coordinating daily activities. I also ensured the project timelines were realistic and accounted for potential setbacks. To track progress, I held regular progress meetings with the project teams to address challenges and adjust the plan as needed. For example, when Project Gamma faced unexpected technical issues, I worked with the development team to mitigate the risks and adjust the project plan, ensuring the project remained on track.”
Result: “Due to my proactive planning and effective time management, all three projects were completed on time, within budget, and received positive client feedback. For example, Project Alpha was delivered two weeks ahead of schedule, saving the company $50,000. Additionally, Project Beta was completed within budget, while Project Gamma received high accolades from the client, which led to a contract extension worth $100,000 for the company. Overall, my leadership and effective project management skills enabled the successful completion of these critical projects, contributing to the company’s growth and profitability.”
Using the STAR method, you can provide a structured and engaging response to any behavioral interview question.
Note that the above response is a “stem” or a summary of a complete answer to behavioral interview questions. You would present a more thorough answer during the job interview.
Supercharge your STAR stories
From our experience as former hiring managers and interviewers at some of the world’s most coveted companies (including Amazon and Apple), most candidates’ STAR stories lack details that make a difference during the job interview. Therefore, we have created Behavioral Interview Whizz, an in-depth course that teaches you Day One Careers proprietary story framework, which supercharges the traditional STAR Method.
Practice your answers
It is essential to practice your answers to common behavioral interview questions before the interview. This will help you become more comfortable and confident in your responses, reducing the likelihood of stumbling or getting off track during the interview.
Consider role-playing with a friend or family member or recording yourself answering questions to identify areas for improvement. The more you can practice answering them, the more natural and polished your responses will become.
Part 3: Common Behavioral Interview Questions and Sample Answers (Summaries)
This section will discuss common behavioral interview questions and provide sample questions and answers using the STAR method. While it is essential to tailor your responses to your experiences and the specific job you are applying for and the values or core competencies of the company, these examples can serve as a starting point for developing your answers. Note, these example answers are “stems” of what you would develop into full-fledged responses during the actual job interview.
Give me an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult co-worker
Situation: At my previous job, I was working as a Marketing Manager for TechSolutions, a mid-sized technology company. In 2020, we were collaborating on a major product launch, specifically a new project management software called “EfficientTask.”
Task: My primary objective was to develop and execute a comprehensive marketing strategy, aiming to achieve a 20% increase in website traffic and secure 5,000 new subscribers within the first two months of the launch. Additionally, I was responsible for coordinating with the design and content teams to create promotional materials and social media campaigns.
Actions: During the project, I encountered a difficult co-worker, Sarah, the lead designer on our team. She was often unresponsive to emails, missed deadlines, and would frequently skip meetings without prior notice. To address this issue, I took the following steps:
I initiated a one-on-one meeting with Sarah to discuss her concerns and any potential roadblocks she might be facing. During the conversation, I discovered she was overwhelmed with her workload and was struggling to prioritize tasks.
To help her manage her workload, I worked with Sarah to create a prioritized task list, breaking down tasks into smaller, manageable goals.
I suggested and implemented a check-in system, where we would have brief daily stand-ups to discuss progress, obstacles, and any additional support needed.
I also facilitated communication between Sarah and other team members, ensuring that everyone was informed and aligned with project goals and expectations.
Results: As a result of these actions, Sarah’s performance improved significantly. She became more engaged, met deadlines, and contributed quality work for the promotional materials. Our marketing strategy was successful in achieving its objectives: website traffic increased by 23% and we secured 5,500 new subscribers within the first two months of the product launch. The successful launch of EfficientTask also contributed to a 15% increase in overall company revenue for that quarter.
Describe a time when you had to adapt to a significant change in your work environment
Situation: In my previous role as a Marketing Manager at TechWave Inc., we experienced a major organizational shift when our company merged with another software company, SoftSolutions, in 2020. This led to an overhaul of our marketing strategies, combining resources, and adapting to new team dynamics.
Task: My main objective during this transition was to integrate the marketing teams of both companies effectively and harmoniously, while achieving a 15% increase in lead generation and a 10% boost in overall brand awareness within the first six months post-merger.
Actions: I took the following steps to adapt to the change and achieve these objectives:
Held regular meetings with both teams to create open channels of communication and address concerns.
Worked closely with the SoftSolutions team to understand their marketing strategies, strengths, and areas for improvement.
Conducted a thorough analysis of our combined resources, identifying opportunities for synergies and streamlining.
Developed a unified marketing plan that leveraged the strengths of both teams and addressed areas of improvement.
Organized training sessions and workshops to help team members adapt to new tools, technologies, and processes.
Established clear KPIs to measure the success of our new marketing efforts and monitored progress regularly.
Results: As a result of these actions, we successfully integrated the marketing teams and achieved a 17% increase in lead generation and a 12% increase in brand awareness within the first six months after the merger. Our efforts also resulted in a more collaborative and efficient work environment that enabled us to capitalize on the strengths of both teams and drive better marketing outcomes for the company.
Give me an example of a time when you had to use critical thinking skills to solve a problem
Situation: At my previous job, I was working as a Marketing Manager for XYZ Tech, a software company that develops AI-powered applications for businesses. In 2021, our company was facing a decline in new customer acquisitions, and the senior management was concerned about the impact on our revenue growth.
Task: I was assigned to identify the cause of the decrease in new customers and develop a strategy to improve our customer acquisition rates. My specific objectives were to increase new customer acquisitions by 15% within six months and to improve our conversion rate from marketing leads to customers by 10%.
Actions: I started by analyzing our existing marketing data to identify patterns and potential areas for improvement. I discovered that while our overall lead generation was strong, the conversion rate from marketing leads to customers was significantly lower than industry benchmarks. I hypothesized that our marketing messaging was not adequately addressing our target audience’s pain points or that our sales process was too complicated.
To test my hypothesis, I organized focus groups with potential customers and interviewed our sales team to gather feedback on our marketing materials and sales process. Based on the insights I gathered, I proposed a three-step plan:
Revamp our marketing messaging to better address our target audience’s pain points and showcase the unique benefits of our AI-powered solutions.
Simplify the sales process by reducing the number of touchpoints and streamlining the onboarding experience for new customers.
Implement an A/B testing framework to continuously optimize our marketing campaigns and sales funnel.
I collaborated with the sales and marketing teams to execute this plan and monitored our KPIs closely to track the progress.
Results: Within six months, we achieved a 20% increase in new customer acquisitions, surpassing our initial target of 15%. Additionally, our conversion rate from marketing leads to customers improved by 12%, exceeding our goal of 10%. Our management was impressed with the results, and we were able to maintain sustainable growth in customer acquisition while optimizing our marketing and sales processes.
Tell me about a time when you had to juggle multiple projects and prioritize your workload
Situation: In my previous role as a Marketing Manager at AcmeTech, I was responsible for overseeing the marketing campaigns for our two flagship products, CloudMaster and DataSaver. In March 2020, we faced a particularly challenging period where we had to launch a new version of CloudMaster, while simultaneously working on an extensive promotional campaign for DataSaver to penetrate a new market segment.
Task: My objectives during this time were to successfully launch the new version of CloudMaster, achieving a 20% increase in sales within the first three months, and to expand DataSaver’s market share by 15% in the new segment within six months. To accomplish this, I had to manage two teams working on the different projects, allocate resources efficiently, and ensure all deadlines were met.
Actions: I started by creating a detailed project plan for both campaigns, outlining milestones, deadlines, and required resources. I held weekly meetings with both teams to monitor progress, address any challenges, and keep everyone on track. To prioritize tasks, I used the Eisenhower Matrix, dividing tasks into four categories based on urgency and importance. This allowed me to delegate tasks effectively, ensuring the most critical tasks were always addressed first.
In order to maintain clear communication, I set up a shared workspace on Trello, where team members could collaborate and track their progress. I also scheduled regular check-ins with each team member individually to offer guidance and support when needed.
Results: By implementing these strategies, we successfully launched the new version of CloudMaster and achieved a 22% increase in sales within the first three months, surpassing our initial goal. Additionally, the promotional campaign for DataSaver proved to be a success, resulting in a 16% increase in market share in the new segment within the six-month time frame. This experience not only demonstrated my ability to manage multiple projects effectively but also highlighted the importance of clear communication and prioritization in achieving desired outcomes.
Part 4: Tips for Acing the Behavioral Interview
When answering behavioral interview questions, providing specific examples from your past experiences is essential. This will help the hiring manager better understand your skills and abilities and how they relate to the job you are interviewing for. Avoid giving vague or general answers, as these can be less impactful and may not fully explain or demonstrate your capabilities.
Use the STAR method
As mentioned earlier, the STAR method is an excellent tool for structuring your answers to behavioral interview questions. By following this format, you can provide clear, concise, and engaging responses that effectively showcase your skills and experience. For best results, supercharge your STAR stories with Behavioral Interview Whizz.
Stay focused and relevant
When answering a behavioral interview question, staying focused on the specific situation, skills or corporate value/competency the interviewer asks about is crucial. Avoid going off on tangents or sharing unrelated anecdotes. Instead, concentrate on a strong answer and provide the interviewer with a detailed, relevant example that directly addresses the question.
Show, don’t tell
Rather than simply stating that you possess a particular skill, use your answer to describe or demonstrate it through a concrete example. This will give the interviewer concrete evidence of your abilities and make your response more compelling.
While presenting yourself in the best possible light is essential, it’s also important to be honest when answering behavioral interview questions. If you exaggerate your accomplishments or fabricate stories, you risk damaging your credibility and losing the interviewer’s trust.
Prepare, but don’t memorize
It’s important to practice your answers to common behavioral interview questions but avoid memorizing them word for word. Instead, focus on understanding your response’s key points and structure, so you can adapt it during the interview.
Having notes up during the interview is fine. Behavioral interviews aren’t meant to be memory tests. Therefore, whether your job interview is in-person or virtual, you can use a memory aid.
When discussing challenging situations or conflicts, maintain a positive tone and focus on your steps to resolve the issue. This will help demonstrate your ability to handle difficult circumstances gracefully and professionally.
While it’s important to provide a detailed answer to behavioral interview questions, avoid going into excessive detail or providing lengthy explanations. Aim for a thorough but concise response (around 7 minutes), ensuring you cover the key points without losing the interviewer’s interest. Remember – your interviewer will most likely ask follow-up questions, giving you an opportunity to delve into more detail if requuired.
Part 5: Conclusion
Behavioral interviews can be challenging, but with thorough preparation and practice, you can excel in this job interview and increase your chances of landing your desired job. By understanding the purpose of behavioral job interview questions, researching the company and role, reviewing your own experiences, using the STAR method, and practicing your answers, you will be well-equipped to tackle any behavioral job interview question that comes your way.
Remember to stay focused, relevant, and honest in your responses and provide concrete examples demonstrating your skills and experience. By following these tips and mastering the art of the behavioral interview, you will be well on your way to impressing hiring managers and securing your dream job. Good luck!
Part 6 – Bonus: Additional Behavioral Interview Questions With Example Summary Answers
Can you describe a situation where you had to work with a difficult team member or coworker? How did you handle it?
Situation: My previous company had a large project involving coordinating multiple departments to optimize our global supply chain. One of my team members, responsible for demand forecasting, was not cooperating well with others and was consistently late with his deliverables.
Task: My objective was to improve communication and collaboration among team members and ensure the project was completed on time. The KPIs for my objectives were: 1) a 15% improvement in forecast accuracy, 2) a 20% reduction in lead times, and 3) a 10% decrease in inventory carrying costs.
Actions: I began by private conversation with the difficult team member to understand his concerns and challenges. I realized he was struggling with the complexity of the forecasting tool and was hesitant to ask for help. I provided him with additional training and resources and set up a weekly check-in to discuss progress and any issues that arose. Furthermore, I established clear expectations and deadlines for deliverables and encouraged open communication among all team members.
Result: As a result of my actions, the team member’s performance improved significantly, and he could meet deadlines consistently. The entire team became more collaborative and communicative. We achieved our KPIs, resulting in a 20% improvement in forecast accuracy, a 25% reduction in lead times, and a 12% decrease in inventory carrying costs.
How do you handle stressful situations or tight deadlines? Can you provide an example of when you were under pressure and how you managed it?
Situation: As a senior supply chain manager, I was responsible for implementing a new warehouse management system (WMS) to streamline our logistics processes. However, we encountered a significant obstacle when the system’s integration with our existing ERP system proved more complicated than anticipated.
Task: My objective was to ensure a successful implementation of the WMS within the six-month timeline while minimizing disruptions to our operations. The KPIs for my objectives were: 1) a 20% improvement in warehouse efficiency, 2) a 15% reduction in order processing time, and 3) a 10% decrease in order errors.
Actions: I assembled a cross-functional team of IT, operations, and supply chain experts to tackle the integration issue. We conducted a thorough analysis of the problem and identified the root cause. I coordinated the development of a custom solution and closely monitored the testing and validation process. Additionally, I kept all stakeholders informed of our progress and ensured that all team members received adequate training on the new system.
Results: Despite the initial challenges, we successfully implemented the WMS within the six-month timeline. As a result of my actions, we achieved our KPIs: warehouse efficiency improved by 22%, order processing time decreased by 18%, and order errors dropped by 12%.
Describe a situation where you had to take the initiative or be proactive to solve a problem. How did you identify the issue, and what actions did you take?
Situation: In my previous role, we faced a sudden surge in demand for a critical product, leading to a potential stock-out problem. The lead time for replenishment from our suppliers was longer than the time we had before running out of stock.
Task: My objective was to prevent a stock-out while minimizing the impact on customer satisfaction and profitability. The KPIs for my objectives were: 1) maintaining a 95% customer service level, 2) reducing stock-out occurrences by 50%, and 3) maintaining a 10% profit margin on the affected product.
Actions: I quickly formed a task force that included procurement, logistics, and sales representatives. We identified alternative suppliers and negotiated expedited shipments to replenish inventory. I also implemented inventory reallocation strategies to prioritize high-value customers, and communicated the situation with our sales team to proactively manage customer expectations.
Results: As a result of my actions, we were able to replenish the inventory promptly, preventing a complete stock-out. We achieved our KPIs, maintaining a 96% customer service level, reducing stock-out occurrences by 60%, and maintaining an 11% profit margin on the affected product.
Can you give an example of when you had to communicate complex information to a non-expert? How did you ensure they understood the message?
Situation: Our company was experiencing recurring supply disruptions due to a single-source supplier’s inability to meet demand consistently. This was causing production delays and negatively impacting customer satisfaction.
Task: My objective was to mitigate the risk of supply disruptions and improve overall supply chain resilience. The KPIs for my objectives were: 1) a 25% reduction in supply disruption incidents, 2) a 10% improvement in supplier on-time delivery performance, and 3) a 15% increase in overall supply chain flexibility.
Actions: I comprehensively analyzed our supplier network and identified potential alternative suppliers. I initiated contact with these suppliers and evaluated their capabilities and pricing. I then presented my findings to senior management and proposed a dual-sourcing strategy to diversify our supply base. Once approved, I led the implementation of the new strategy, including onboarding the latest suppliers and integrating them into our supply chain processes.
Results: As a result of my actions, we significantly reduced our reliance on the single-source supplier and improved overall supply chain resilience. We achieved our KPIs with a 30% reduction in supply disruption incidents, a 12% improvement in supplier on-time delivery performance, and a 20% increase in overall supply chain flexibility.
Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a significant change in your work environment or job role. How did you adjust, and what strategies did you use?
Situation: During a company-wide initiative to reduce costs, I was asked to present the potential savings from implementing a demand-driven supply chain approach to the executive team, who were not supply chain experts.
Task: My objective was to communicate the benefits of the demand-driven approach and secure executive buy-in for its implementation. The KPIs for my objectives were: 1) a 20% reduction in overall supply chain costs, 2) a 15% improvement in order fulfillment lead time, and 3) a 10% increase in forecast accuracy.
Actions: I developed a clear and concise presentation that focused on the key benefits of the demand-driven approach, using relatable examples and visual aids. I also prepared answers to potential questions and concerns, emphasizing the impact on the company’s bottom line and competitive advantage.
Results: As a result of my actions, the executive team fully understood the potential benefits of the demand-driven approach and approved its implementation. We achieved our KPIs, with a 22% reduction in overall supply chain costs, a 17% improvement in order fulfillment lead time, and a 12% increase in forecast accuracy.
Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a significant change in your work environment or job role. How did you adjust and what strategies did you use?
Situation: Following a merger, my senior supply chain manager role expanded to oversee the newly acquired company’s supply chain operations, which had a different operating model and IT infrastructure.
Task: My objective was to ensure a smooth integration of the two supply chain operations while maintaining high-performance levels. The KPIs for my objectives were: 1) a 20% reduction in combined supply chain costs, 2) a 15% improvement in combined on-time delivery performance, and 3) a 10% increase in combined inventory turnover.
Actions: I began by thoroughly familiarizing myself with the new company’s operating model and IT infrastructure. I identified synergies and opportunities for improvement and developed a comprehensive integration plan. I also established a cross-functional team to oversee the integration process, ensuring all departments were aligned and working towards the same objectives. Additionally, I provided training and support to my team and the acquired company’s supply chain team to ensure a smooth transition.
Results: As a result of my actions, the integration of the two supply chain operations was completed successfully and within the expected timeframe. We achieved our KPIs with a 23% reduction in supply chain costs, a 17% improvement in on-time delivery performance, and a 12% increase in combined inventory turnover.