Behavioral Interview Questions

You’ve been preparing for your upcoming interview at your dream company. You’ve researched and arranged answers to the most common interview questions for the position.
You probably gather why your strengths and weaknesses are important for your interviewer to know. However, you just may not get the reason behind the weird ‘how many tennis balls can you fit in a limousine’ question.
Throughout our article, we’ll tell you what these unusual behavioral interview questions are, what they test, and how to best answer them.

What Are Behavioral Interview Questions?

Behavioral interview questions are a famous technique interviewers use to gain more knowledge about a potential candidate.
These are situational questions that test how the candidate would perform in real-life professional situations. Thus, they assess not technical but soft skills that are valuable to the position you’re applying for.
A behavioral question typically asks the candidate to recall a specific work experience and how he reacted to it.
Through listening and analyzing your answers, interviewers get a realistic idea of your work ethics, adaptability, leadership, and communication, among many other skills.

20 Examples of Behavioral Interview Questions

Interviewers can ask behavioral questions about almost any situation.
While it's impossible to collect all the behavioral interview questions that can be asked, we’ve collected a few to help you get a sense of what to expect.

Confidence

  • Tell me about a time when you had to be persuasive to communicate an important point to your customer.
  • Tell me about a time when you decided you have to take an issue to your supervisor. What was the outcome?

Maintaining Composure

  • Tell me about how you’re able to work in stressful and demanding situations
  • Tell me about a time when you were expected to achieve a lot in a limited time frame. How did you meet the deadline?
  • Tell me about a time when you’ve had to decide in an instant. What technique did you use to reach a quick but appropriate decision?

Communication

  • Tell me of a time when you delivered a speech or a presentation and you were especially successful at it
  • Tell me how you’d arrange your thoughts and ideas to write a complicated writing assignment
  • Tell me about a time when your active listening skills have been useful

Attention to Detail

  • Tell me about a time when you’ve had to manage many events or projects at the same time
  • Tell me about a task that required high concentration levels. How did you stay on track?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work with a lot of paperwork. How did you organize everything?

Problem-Solving

  • Tell me about the most complicated problem you faced in your previous job. How did you solve it?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to think outside of the box to solve a problem
  • Tell me about a project that you personally planned, executed, and evaluated

Teamwork

  • Tell me about a time that you improved your relationship with a colleague to get the job done
  • Tell me of a time when you managed to persuade a colleague to see eye to eye

Brain Teasers

  • How many golf balls can you fit in a limousine?
  • How can you measure exactly four gallons of water using a three-gallon bucket and a five-gallon bucket only?
  • How can you explain a sunset to a blind person?
  • Why are manhole covers round?

5 Examples of What Your Interviewer Looks for in Behavioral Interview Questions

Knowing what skill each question tests is crucial to constructing job-winning answers to them. Here are a few behavioral interview questions and what they test.

How Many Tennis Balls Can You Fit in a Limousine?

These kinds of brain-teaser questions serve to test your ability to think logically under pressure.
Your interviewer isn’t necessarily waiting for an answer. All they want is to see you taking logical steps to solve the problem. You can even ask for a pen and paper if that would help you arrange your thoughts.

Tell Me of a Time When You Managed to Persuade Your Colleague to See Eye to Eye

Conflicts are an unavoidable part of working in a team-based environment. It’s more efficient to identify and resolve conflicts early on, rather than sweeping them under the rug.
By asking you this question your interviewer can evaluate your communication, conflict management, and teamwork skills.

Tell Me About a Mistake That You Made and How You Handled It

It’s certainly uncomfortable speaking about one’s mistakes, especially in front of a potential employer whom you’re trying to impress.
Don’t worry, though. Interviewers usually ask this question not to chastise you for previous mistakes, but rather to see how you’ve learned from them.

Tell Me About How You’re Able to Work Under Stressful and Demanding Conditions?

Stressful situations are inevitable in any job and your interviewer knows that quite well. As they listen to you answering this question, they’ll take mental notes on your ability to maintain composure, prioritize tasks, and make informed fast decisions.

Tell Me About a Project That You Personally Planned, Executed, and Evaluated

An interviewer asks this question to evaluate your planning ability and dedication to projects. This is especially important for managerial positions as you’d be frequently in charge of seeing various projects through.

4 Tips to Prepare Answers to Behavioral Interview Questions

As with the commonly asked interview questions, planning and rehearsing your answers to different behavioral questions beforehand can help you remain composed during the interview.
Here’s how you can prepare for your interview's behavioral questions.

Study the Job Qualifications

Technical skills and expertise required for a position are generally clear to applicants. It’s the soft skills specifically needed to fit into the company, team, or role that can be quite vague.
That said, employers usually hint at the soft skills they need in their job advertisements.

Think About Relevant Experiences From Your Past Job

Now that you've identified all of the soft skills required for the position you're applying for, consider all of the experiences from your previous jobs that demonstrate your mastery of these skills.
Remember that you want situations in which the desired skill was tested and you succeeded.

Construct Answers Following the STAR Technique

Once you’ve prepared your set of situations, start arranging answers to highlight the desired skill using the STAR technique.
Here’s our breakdown of the STAR technique components:
  • Situation: First you should lay down the scene where you’ve got the experience. Give specific details to highlight the challenges of the problem at hand.
  • Task: Here you explain where you fit in the story. What exactly were the roles and responsibilities assigned to you. Were there any objectives or deadlines that you had to work to achieve?
  • Action: This is the section where you finally shine. Elaborate on exactly what you did to navigate your way and solve the challenge.
Take your interviewer through your thought process, whether you asked for assistance or adopted a new skill.
  • Result: Don’t step out of the spotlight just yet. End your story with the positive effects your actions yielded.
Even if you’re answering a question about a time that you failed you can still end on a positive note by highlighting any new skills that you learned.
Use numbers to emphasize the impact your actions had on the overall operation of your company.

Rehearse Out Loud

Simply memorizing your answers would come off as forced in front of your interviewer.
Instead of memorizing answers, try saying them out loud a few times. You don’t need to say the same words, you just have to stick to your STAR story outline.
It's also a good idea to practice answering questions in front of a mirror. You'll be more aware of your facial expressions and body language, which account for nearly 55% of our interactions.

Conclusion

Behavioral interview questions can be daunting at first. You fidget in your seat searching your blank mind for a situation that would impress your interviewer.
You can spare yourself the anxiety by preparing relevant situations that highlight your field-specific soft skills in advance.
What’s more, use the STAR technique to narrate the situation in a concise, relevant, and engaging way.
Finally, practice speaking in front of a mirror to master your body language as well as your words. Good luck with your interview.