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Behavioral Interviewing: What Questions to ask + 24 Example Questions

  • Publish Date: Posted almost 4 years ago
  • Author: Taylor Varco

Behavioral interviewing is a method hiring managers use to more accurately measure how successful a job candidate will be for a role. It focuses on a candidate’s past experiences by asking them to provide specific examples of how they demonstrate certain behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities. It is based on the belief that past behaviors can help predict what kind of employee the candidate will be and if they are a fit for a particular role. 

There are many reasons to incorporate behavioral interviewing into your hiring process; if done correctly, candidate’s answers should provide concrete evidence as to how they have dealt with issues in the past. This information often reveals a candidate’s actual level of experience and potential to handle similar situations. 

Choose your competencies 

Every role you hire for is different. They all require a different level of experience and different skillsets. Instead of choosing from a general “best interview questions to ask,” you should be choosing your questions based on specific competencies you need for the role. There are many competencies to choose from, it’s best to start with 4-5 per role and adjust from there. 

Examples of Competencies: 

• Adaptability 
• Ambition 
• Analytical Thinking 
• Communication 
• Conflict Resolution 
• Decision Making 
• Delegation 
• Detail-Oriented 
• Flexibility 
• Initiative 
• Interpersonal Skills 
• Innovative Thinking 
• Integrity 
• Leadership 
• Performance Management 
•Problem Solving 
• Resolving Conflict 
• Scheduling 
• Values Diversity 

The list of competencies goes on and on. Of course, you want your employees to have most of these, but what are the most important ones to be successful for the role you’re hiring? For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on 4 of the most popular competencies. 

Competency 1: Teamwork 

• Talk about a time when you had to work closely with someone whose personality was very different from yours.
• Give me an example of a time you faced a conflict while working on a team. How did you handle that?
• Tell me about a time you needed to get information from someone who wasn’t very responsive. What did you do? 
• Have you ever dealt with company policy you weren’t in agreement with? How? 
• Have you had to convince a team to work on a project they weren’t thrilled about? How did you do it? 
• Have you ever been in a situation where you disagree with your boss? What did you do? 

Competency 2: Problem Solving 

• Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision. 
• Can you tell me about the last time you had to act on an issue and there was no formal procedure on how to do so? 
• How do you approach a task that you’ve never done before? 
• On occasion, we’ve all been asked to perform tasks to accomplish a goal where the instructions are ambiguous. Can you tell me about a time that this happened to you and what you did to achieve the goal? 
• Have you ever been caught unaware by a problem or obstacles that you had not foreseen? What happened? 
• Tell us about a time when you did something completely different from the plan and/or assignment. Why? What happened? 

Competency 3: Communication Skills 

• Describe a time when you were the resident technical expert. What did you do to make sure everyone was able to understand you? 
• Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way at work. 
• Tell me about a time when you had to rely on written communication to get your ideas across to your team. 
• Give me an example of a time when you had to explain something fairly complex to a frustrated client or team member. How did you handle this delicate situation?
• Tell me about a successful presentation you gave and why you think it was a hit. 

Competency 4: Leadership 

• Describe the most challenging group from which you’ve had to gain cooperation. 
• Can you tell us about a time you took initiative on a project? 
• Can you talk about a time when a project didn’t have a leader, but you took charge? Why did you take charge? What did you do? 
• What has been the toughest project you had to lead? Why was it difficult? 
• For you, what is the most difficult part of being a leader? What do you do about that? 
• What has been you greatest achievement as a leader? What are you most proud of? 
• Can you talk about a time when you motivated your team? How did you do it? How effective were your efforts? 

There are infinite ways to set up your behavioral interview – for some help with your process, reach out to one of our hiring experts at