Behavioral Interview: Expected Questions and Sample Answers

Behavioral Interview

It is one thing to undergo training for the workplace environment, but another thing entirely to prove that you have the required knowledge to handle incidents effectively.

All interviews have a ‘Behavioral Evaluation’ section that analyzes past situations, tasks, actions, and results. Think of it as the standard way for assessing how you would handle workplace situations.

This is the ultimate job deal-breaker. It focuses on stress management, teamwork, problem-solving and self-knowledge techniques.

The following well-illustrated sample questions and answers should help increase your chances of landing your dream job.

1. How do you handle general work challenges?

Your employer simply wants to assess your problem-solving and stress management skills. As such, breath in, be honest and give the closest example to the job at hand. To sound legitimate, give examples of past challenges and how you resolved them. A genuine answer would sound like this:

Expected Answer:

After an unexpected growth in my previous company, challenges such as delayed processes, and monitoring of policies rose drastically. At first, it was hell, but after a few weeks, I came up with flexible work plans, implemented follow-up meetings and priority schedules to help contain the situation. Working in such a hectic environment helped me maintain quality amidst the pressure. I’m pretty sure I can do the same and much better if hired.

2. Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult client. How bad was the situation? And what are some of the measures you took to handle it?

If the job you are applying for demands frequent interaction with clients, then you should expect this question. Your employer should know if you’ve been in uncomfortable situations before and how you remained calm whilst solving the client’s problem. Always answer this practically, using logical examples.

Expected Answer:

One of my first jobs was in a retail store as a sales and marketing officer. On one occasion, a regular customer got so uptight and rowdy around the office I was in. He wanted to see my boss because of several complaints regarding our products. Since my boss was not around, I explained in a calm but empathetic voice that I would have my boss call him later in the day and promised that the issue would be resolved. With that, he cooled down and even apologized for the fracas he had caused.

3. Give a good example of how you have worked on a team and how your input helped.

Anything to do with teamwork shows how collaboration skills and teamwork are crucial in the effectiveness and efficiency of the job you are applying for. The hiring manager expects you to demonstrate how you have been a team player or a team manager, plus some of the strategies you have implemented when working on a team.

Expected Answer:

As the operations assistant manager for ABC Technology firm, I was part of a research team responsible for the implementation of a new ERP system. The overall manager worked with the top-level management to determine strategic issues and so most of the workload fell on me. I distributed different sectors of the work to the team, based on their strengths, and initiated meetings amongst ourselves to help prep for major meetings with the top bosses. This helped people to work together and streamlined most of the processes. Finally, the project was implemented long before the due date.

4. Have you ever used logic to solve a crucial problem?

A test of intuition! How well can you handle complicated situations in the work environment? This question cuts across the board and applies to all jobs. Your employer would like to know how you would go about things that are not anticipated.

Expected Answer:

While working as an office administrator at XYZ traders, it dawned on me that one of our finance officers had become completely dependent on painkillers prescribed after his surgery. This impaired his performance and led to the overall sloppiness of our department. Instead of reporting him as the root cause, I helped him arrange for a treatment program covered by the company’s insurance and this brought him back on track.

5. How have you previously managed to meet tight deadlines?

As expected, every job has deadlines, so the question is not the number of deadlines you have met, but how you have managed to do so while handling the pressure. This question hints that the job in question has some pressure and would call for a candidate that can handle the same.

Expected Answer:

In so many ways, they have been motivational. While working as a financial advisor for a business firm, I had to work double-time during some periods because the finance department had the strictest deadlines. The processes of creating budgets and long-term financial strategies within a short time were strenuous at first but eventually, I got used to it and I can now handle multiple tasks at the same time while delivering at the expected timeframe.

Have you ever had to make an important decision without all the information needed? How did things turn out?

If you are applying for any managerial position, you should expect numerous questions just like this. Decision making reveals how you use the tools and resources available to act quickly and keep the processes running. Use a good example to show your potential new boss that you can make sound decisions regardless of information shortage.

Expected Answer:

Being an Accounts officer and company writer for one of the renowned companies, I had one of the toughest deadlines of my career. I had to do a 20-page write-up on new terms and conditions for a new service, with only three days of notice. On top of that, I had to attach the document with the company profile and a grant application on behalf of my superior who was away. With the help of past applications, I got most, but not all that was required. I could either risk not sending the grant or send and having it declined. Fortunately, I chose the former and the application went through successfully.

7. Describe in detail, how a risky decision you made affected the normal functioning of things?

The interviewer has one goal in mind: To test your judgment and willingness to take risks. Not any risk, but intelligent risks. Start by calculating the risks in the industry you are in and explain a risky decision you had to make plus the outcome of the same. To make it even more convincing, mention how it paid off and the recognition you received for it.

Expected Answer:

The few years I have worked as a shipping salesperson was shipping a valuable customer order late. The incident was purposefully done because I was not quite satisfied by the standards, quality audit and threshold range. As per my principles, I would rather deliver late but ensure quality standards have been upheld, rather than deliver early and have quality issues afterward. Though the customer was unhappy because of the late delivery, she was glad that I cared enough to avoid future potential problems.

8. As far as your career goes, have you ever failed to meet your goals? Why?

Everyone has faced disappointments and failures; so that’s not the issue here. The issue is how you have previously dealt with overdue goals, failure, and work-related adversities. Sometimes, employers want to know how far you can stretch and how much you are willing to pick yourself up.

Expected Answer:

One of the reasons why I outranked most of my colleagues in my previous job is because I have a fair share of failures. The most notable one is when I spearheaded the implementation and integration of the new company system, something that cost me my job. Being over-ambitious was the cause of failure and from then onwards, I got a new perspective to view similar projects. Thanks to that gruesome experience, I have learned what it takes and even implemented three similar systems, all which have been successful.

9. I’m curious about how you recharge during your time off. What do you do in your leisure time?

Easily, this the simplest but trickiest question in any given interview. The good thing about it is that there is no wrong answer. Assuming you have gone through the job description and what the company stands for, you should be able to know what to answer. Just, don’t lie about anything. Also, don’t forget! What you like sheds a light on your character and predicts if you will get on well with your colleagues.

Expected Answer:

Assuming you work for a sales company that is competition-oriented, you could say something like:

“I coach a football team in my neighborhood, comprised of young teenagers, through the great strategies I have amassed from watching and playing the game. On top of that, I fancy playing chess, just to feel the beauty of predicting my opponent’s next move.”

If you are seeking employment in a Tech-related industry, your answer should be comprised of activities that are more likely to fuel your passion and skills in technology. Such could be visual designs, coding, or even developing games.

10. Describe when you struggled to build a strong relationship with an important client and how things transpired

In a professional and highly enabling environment, nothing matters more than maintaining strong relationships. Every interviewer knows this and so should you. They would like to know if you can build a strong bond with your co-workers, clients, bosses, and stakeholders. In some situations, they may want to know if you would take the initiative to strengthen relationships.

Expected Answer:

I have had numerous encounters with upset customers and arrogant high-ranking clients. I can recount one boss who was always intimidating, especially when it came to most of my approaches and mannerisms. As time went by, I realized she was always flat with her emotions when dealing with everyone; something which made it hard to navigate at work. Having understood that, I empathized with her situation, and lowered my expectations on our relationship. Soon enough, she was the least of my problems.

11. How do you go about disagreeing with your boss?

This is yet another vital subject in interviews: Communication skills. Almost all the time, disagreements arise and how you handle them tells a lot about you. Your employer would like to see if you can maintain a good relationship with your superiors and whether you are the best fit for the position. Make sure to mention how you enforced and maintained good communication in previous jobs.

Expected Answer:

I once disagreed with the overall marketing manager at one of the advertisement agencies regarding how best to help a client. Since the situation was getting out of hand, I took him to one of the empty offices instead of holding the heated argument in front of everyone. I explained how I preferred doing things and the disadvantages of using his method. Turns out there was a very small misunderstanding and we got to the same track before we could even realize. I noted the importance of communicating in detail, to ensure small problems don’t become bigger than they should be.

Give an example of a time when you made an unpopular decision and if it turned out to be the right one

Every job has a few management roles involved. You will have to make difficult decisions at some point and your employer would like to know your take on conforming to new policies and regulations. Also, they would love to know how you implement change in such a diverse time and age.

Expected Answer:

4 years ago, while still working with my previous employer, one of the senior supervisors relocated to another country and I had to take over a group of young, energetic developers. Everyone was good at what they did, but the main problem was inconsistency. The previous supervisor allowed flexible shifts without any accountability. As such, some people were being given more opportunities by others. I went against everyone’s opinion and created a policy where everyone had to be approved for role changes, to ensure everyone worked equally and that no one took advantage of other people. It worked like magic!

13. Have you ever championed a project idea your team was not interested in? Did it finally become a success?

interviewers want to know how you work with different personalities- and how you’ve motivated each team member to be personally invested in the project or job outside of just a paycheck. They want to see how you learn from experience and how you address challenges that are common to the job.

Every hiring manager wants to know how their future employee-to-be can relate to different personalities. If you have previously motivated your team members and sold the vision of the team to them, then this is your time to speak up. They want to know how you learned from the experiences and addressed the arising challenges.

Expected Answer:

Regardless of the position of nature of the job I am working on, I constantly get the urge to compliment people’s good work, correct them when they do wrong, but above all, encourage them when the work environment gets stressful. On a few occasions I have held management roles, I have enforced things such as half-days and team-building activities to keep up the team spirit and relieve the mind from work pressure. On other days, I have offered incentives for the most productive people; something which has helped push everyone to their limits.

14. Have you ever made a costly mistake? And what did you do about it?

You have to be completely honest about this one. Everyone has made mistakes before. What matters is how the mistakes helped in making you a better person. The employer doesn’t want you to dwell on the mistake. If anything, take all the blame; shifting it to someone else only reflects how you don’t like owning up. Emphasize how you improved and the steps you have taken to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again.

Expected Answer:

From the first day of operations in my first managerial position, I took on everything by myself, sometimes leaving my co-workers with free schedules simply because I wanted to outdo myself and gain more credit. This affected my interaction with the whole department I was heading, and the year marked the least sales in the longest time ever. I was close to losing my job when I realized the importance of delegating activities and working as a team. I believe I have since then grown and learned how to solve challenges professionally.

15. How do you manage to deliver and work efficiently under pressure?

Such a direct straightforward question only means you are being considered for a position with a significant amount of stress. How well can you work under stress? Like other similar questions, give examples of how your ability to keep your cool has kept things running amidst tough times.

Expected Answer:

Once, I was involved in a critical project with a timely deadline of 72 days. After coming up with the schedule and phases to be undertaken, a directive was passed on by the top management to have the project fast-forwarded to 50 days. I still remember how receiving the news felt like a hard knock-out blow by the cheek. Thinking objectively, we added a few extra hours to each schedule and eventually got the job done in 48 days. The strategic allocation of hours and amazing team are the key reasons for the success.


After any question, take a few seconds to gather your thoughts and seek clarification where necessary. Employers are not looking for someone who is 100% perfect. Even so, you should always put your best foot forward to stand-out among the numerous interviewees.

Always study the job at hand, determine the soft and hard skills required, and note examples of past situations where you have implemented these skills. Above all, be brief, positive, truthful and careful not to reveal any sensitive information.