Asking behaviour-based interview questions is more important than ever, especially in a time when the workplace is changing so rapidly.
This blog covers a list of 30 examples of behavioural interview questions that will help any manager or HR professional create a more structured interview process when interviewing multiple candidates for the same role.
30 behavioural interview questions to ask candidates
Behavioural interview questions widely vary amongst industries and job roles, so there is no one single list of questions that works for all. The good news, however, is that there are a set of behavioural questions that in most cases tend to cover similar themes even across industries. These questions can be split according to the following 6 categories:
- Time management.
- Communication skills.
- Working with clients.
Below you can find 5 examples of each behavioural interview question categories outlined above.
P.S. Remember that there may be additional themes that pertain to the job for which you’re interviewing the candidate so try to change the following questions accordingly! On top of that – it’s entirely up to you whether you want to include all questions or incorporate only a few!
Behavioural job interview questions about time management
- Tell me about a time when a situation was stressful at work and what did you do to cope with this stress.
- How do you accomplish tasks when under a tight deadline? Give me an example.
- Describe a long-term project you managed. How did you make sure everything was running smoothly?
- Sometimes, it’s almost impossible to get everything done on your to-do list. What do you do when your list of responsibilities becomes overwhelming?
- Can you describe an instance where your supervisor or manager just gave you too much work with not enough time? What did you do?
Behavioural job interview questions about communication skills
- How do you handle a disagreement with your colleagues? Give me an example of when you successfully persuaded someone to see things your way at work.
- What would you do if you misunderstood an important task on the job? Give me an example.
- Have you ever had to work under someone who wasn’t very good at communicating? What happened?
- Can you tell me about a time you gave a presentation that was particularly successful? Why do you think it went well?
- Describe a situation where you felt you didn’t communicate well. How could you have handled the situation differently?
Behavioural job interview questions about teamwork
- Describe a work environment or culture in which you are most productive.
- Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team?
- When you work together with a team on a task/project, describe the role that you are most likely to play within the team?
- Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone completely different from you. How did you adapt to collaborate better?
- What do you do when your team member refuses to, or just can’t complete their part of the work? Give me an example.
Behavioural job interview questions about working with clients
- Clients can be difficult to work with sometimes. Can you describe a situation when a client was wrong and you had to correct them?
- How do you handle irate customers? Give me an example.
- We all make mistakes sometimes we wish we could take them back. Is there a time that comes to mind when you wish you had handled a situation with a client or colleague do differently?
- Describe a time when you had to deal with an angry customer. How were you able to resolve the issue in a way that made the customer feel valued?
- Tell me about a time that you were unclear about a customer’s request. What steps did you take to clarify things?
Behavioural job interview questions about adaptability
- Tell me about your first job in the industry. What did you do to learn the ropes?
- Can you give me an example of when you had to adapt to a new and sudden change in the workplace? What happened?
- Give me an example of when you had to suddenly perform under pressure. What happened and how did you handle it?
- How have you handled setbacks at work?
- Can you talk about a time when you had to embrace a new system, technology, process, or way of thinking that was a major departure from the previous way of doing things? Did it become a success story?
Behavioural job interview questions about leadership
- What would be the characteristics of a great boss?
- Define your ideal management style.
- Tell me about a time when you successfully delegated tasks to your team.
- Can you tell me about a time when you had to perform a task or work on a project with no previous experience before? How did you approach this situation and what did you learn?
- Can you talk about a time when you discovered new information that affected a decision you had made already? Explain how you proceeded.
What is workplace behaviour?
The term behaviour generally refers to the way in which someone behaves in response to a particular situation, how they act or conduct themselves, and how they interact with others.
Workplace behaviour is often dictated by certain traits and personality types, for example:
- Helping others
- Learning from your own mistakes
- Being able to lead by example
- Effective communication
- Ability to think strategically
And so on.
In, fact behaviour has proven to be a significant predictor of work performance, with a correlation of 0.45. Whereas:
- the correlation between education and job performance is 0.10,
- and the correlation between work experience and job performance is 0.16.
This is based on the concept of behaviour consistency, which indicates that “past performance is the best predictor of future performance” (Wernimont & Campbell, 1968, p.372). It specifically means that how people behave in the past and how they will behave in the future will be consistent in similar tasks or situations. By capturing candidates’ specific behaviour under work contexts, we get a sample of how they will actually behave in the future job position, rather than guessing what could possibly mean by their personality profiles or how they intend to behave (Thornton & Rupp, 2006; Lievens & De Soete, 2012).
This is exactly why so many companies have turned to assessing behaviour by means of behavioural interview questions.
Why is behavioural interviewing important?
Having these insights helps to understand which responsibilities/tasks fit someone, how a person can be coached, and how they will behave in a team setting. Behaviour is especially important in today’s workplace, which is subject to rapid changes. Asking behaviour-based questions can help you assess a candidate’s ability to adapt to new situations, handle stress, work within a team, and more.
What are behavioural interview questions?
Behavioural (sometimes referred to as situational) questions focus on addressing specific situations and responses by asking a candidate to reflect on a hypothetical or actual past situation they’ve been in.
How do you recognize one of these questions? Behavioural interview questions typically begin with statements like “tell me about a time” or “give me an example of a time.” They are more specific than your typical “What makes you a good fit for this job?” or “What is your greatest strength?”.
These questions focus on examining both hard and soft skills of the candidate being interviewed. They help to determine a candidate’s suitability for a role by evaluating their past behavior in similar situations. Typically, they are based on the premise that past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior.
6 benefits of asking behavioural interview questions
Now, there are many reasons why assessing the behaviour of candidates is important:
- A lot of jobs won’t be existing in 10 years, but there will also be a lot of new jobs we aren’t aware of yet. Hard skills and past experience are very much related to specific jobs, but as many jobs are subject to change, behavioural aspects of a person make it easier to adjust to a new job and learn that new job quickly.
- The Main benefit of using behavioural interview questions is that they help you to predict a candidate’s performance in the role you are planning to hire them for even before you make a hiring decision.
- Makes the candidate recall real actions and results they have experienced and describe them in detail.
- Companies that invest the time and energy in developing behavioral interviews often attract top candidates and top candidates make the company a more desirable place to work.
- Behavioral interviews make it difficult for the candidate to make up stories that are not based on real situations.
- Behaviour-oriented hiring instead of experience or education-oriented hiring enlarges your talent pool.
What is a good response length for behavioural interview questions?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as it depends on the specific question being asked and the role being interviewed for.
However, in general, it is important that the answer is long enough to provide a thorough explanation of the behaviour in question. Meaning that one-word answers are a red flag, and a green flag would mean that the candidate takes the time to provide a detailed account of their actions and thought process (without unnecessarily rambling). Yet, some questions may require a shorter or longer answer depending on their complexity.
Some food for thought about behavioural interviewing
Behavioral interviewing has been the gold standard in hiring and recruiting for decades. But new conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion reveal that relying on the sole assumption that only past behaviour predicts future performance is a deeply flawed way to assess a candidate’s potential…
If you want to create truly inclusive hiring practices, you need to go beyond selecting candidates based on how they come across in interviews, because you’d be surprised how many pitfalls you can fall into when doing so…