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19 behavioural interview questions and how to answer them

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interview questions

It is estimated that 80% of every interview is made up of behavioural questions. This type of interviewing is based on the philosophy that your past actions and behaviours will be a good indicator of your future behaviours. Therefore, how you acted towards certain circumstances in your previous job is a reliable indicator of how you will act in your new job. In this article we’ll take a closer look at these behaviour type questions – with preparation tips and examples. 

What are behavioural questions?

These types of questions differ from standard interview questions as they focus more on experiences, behaviours, knowledge, skills, and abilities. Rather than the standard question of “Do you have leadership skills” a behavioural question is more likely to be “Give me an example of your previous role when you displayed leadership abilities.” As the interviewer has already determined which skills are necessary for the role, it is important that you are prepared for these questions.

The best way to begin studying for these questions is to look at the job description. The list of skills that they require are the skills they will more than likely focus on. When the job description mentions they require a person with good teamwork skills or negotiation skills, it is more than likely that this will be turned into a behavioural question to see if you really do possess these skills.

How to answer behavioural questions

The best way to answer a behavioural question is to use the STAR format.

Situation: The interviewer wants you to present a recent challenge and situation in which you found yourself.

Task: What did you have to achieve? The interviewer will be looking to see what you were trying to achieve from the situation.

Action: What did you do? The interviewer will be looking for information on what you did, why you did it and what the alternatives were.

Results: What were the outcomes of your actions? What did you achieve through your actions and did you meet your objectives? What did you learn from this experience and have you used this learning since?

How to nail the behavioural interview

1)    Take a blank piece of paper and write down between 10-20 examples from your education, work experience, community work, charity etc. of where you added value in a positive way.

2)    Now using the STAR format write out the Situation, Task, Action, Result

Example question: “Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.”

Situation: My role as project manager was to ensure that projects are completed on time and on budget.

Task: My last role involved combining three office spaces into one. With a tight deadline of 90 days and dealing with multiple contractors from different companies, I knew it was going to be a struggle to complete the job in time. I set the goal of having everything completed within 80 days to give us 10 days at the end to make final corrections.

Action: By dividing all the different contractors into three main teams and having three project managers controlling the three teams, I was able to create a more efficient and effective work timetable and ensure that downtime was kept to a minimum.

Result: As a result of this more efficient working time we completed the job on time and reduced costs by 15%. This new way of dividing contractors into smaller teams has now been implemented into standard work procedure and seen a reduction in overall costs.

19 of the most asked behavioural questions

  • Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation and how you overcame the situation
  • Provide an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead
  • Tell me about a situation where you have had to speak with an unhappy customer
  • Give me an example of a time when you motivated others and how this led to a positive outcome
  • Give an example of a goal you set and how you reached it
  • Describe an instance when you had to think on your feet to make a split-second decision
  • Describe a situation where you knew your boss was wrong – how did you handle it?
  • Describe a major change or adjustment to your job and your reactions to the change
  • Tell me about a time when you encountered conflict in the workplace and how you handled the conflict
  • Provide an example of when you had to go above and beyond your normal duties in order to get the job done
  • Describe a time when you put the needs of your workmates before your own when completing a task
  • Provide an example of a problem you had with a co-worker or boss and how you resolved it
  • Provide an example of a time when you felt you were able to motivate
  • Describe a time when you did not put in 100% into your job or performance and what you did about it
  • Tell me about a time when you had to solve a problem with very little guidance or direction
  • Tell me about a time when you went overtime on a deadline
  • What is the biggest contribution you made in your current role?
  • What are you most proud of in your working career?
  • Discuss a setback you have overcome in the last 12 months

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