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Behavioural Interview Questions

Behavioural interview questions are based on the principle that your past behaviour is the best indicator of how you will perform in the future.  They give you the opportunity to present examples that indicate you have the required skills and attributes for the position.

It is important to be prepared for this type of questioning and to think about some of the likely scenarios you may be asked beforehand. 

Following are some of the common behavioural interview questions used by recruiters:

How would you describe yourself?
Be ready to spend about two minutes answering this question. Begin wherever you feel comfortable: high school, college, a prior position.  This is your opportunity to speak logically and clearly about yourself and to share a particular accomplishment or attribute that makes you a valuable employee.

Tell me about your biggest accomplishment.
Your response here is critical. Focus on your hard work, commitment to long hours or ability to work under pressure. Describe a recent challenge and how you were involved in the solution through working overtime, a leadership role or other contribution. Try to present an accomplishment you feel might apply to this new position.

Why do you want to change jobs?
Discussing major problems within the company, or sharing the fact that the company is being bought out or shut down, is acceptable. Never criticise a past employer or co-workers. A safe answer is that you feel you can no longer make a contribution because of extensive changes at the company.

What did you like / dislike about your last position?
Your answer will give the interviewer an idea of whether or not you are a good fit for this position. Avoid admitting that you didn’t like working overtime or you had a conflict with the company’s management team. Instead, put a positive spin on your answer by saying you enjoy challenges and growth opportunities.

In what ways are you qualified for this position?
Focus on a few requirements of the job and how you can meet these requirements through your particular skills and experience. Highlight your management experience, a technical skill or a personal success story.

Describe your most important strengths.
Identify five strengths you feel are most in line with the position for which you’re interviewing (eg, technical skills, management experience.) Describe each strength using a brief example of how you successfully applied that particular strength to a work situation.

Have you accomplished something you didn’t think was possible?
This question will allow you to prove your integrity, work ethic or commitment to achieving a goal. Be prepared to give an example of how you accomplished a significant challenge without giving up.

Is there a situation in the past in which you took the initiative?
A motivated, results-oriented employee knows what to do without being told. Describe to the interviewer situations in which you exhibited a strong work ethic or creative abilities that helped you overcome a particularly challenging situation.

Can you think of a situation during your career that was particularly embarrassing? How would you handle the same situation today?
Your answer will show that you are able to learn from past mistakes.
Be honest about a particular failure, but be sure to talk positively about the lesson you learned from it.

One of our company's biggest challenges is.....
How would you deal with this?
Begin by asking for more details before trying to answer this question. It’s helpful to try to break the challenge into sub-challenges, in which you may have prior experience. Tell how you would deal with these areas, and try to summarise with the method you would use to solve the overall problem. This is a great opportunity to present your analytical and organisational skills.

Have you ever been in situations involving difficult co-workers, tight deadlines or inadequate resources? How did you handle these situations?
This is where you can discuss effective management skills and your ability to handle various challenges. Describe your most difficult management task and the skills you used to deal with it, such as organisational and interpersonal skills, your perseverance and diplomacy.

What would you change about your career if given the opportunity?
Your answer to this question requires honesty. The interviewer wants to know if you’ll be happy in the position, and whether you are motivated enough to make changes in order to get what you want out of your career.

What are your career goals?
Don’t mention goals you know are most likely not attainable. Give realistic answers, such as a management promotion in three to five years. Consider your past (did you rise quickly or travel a rocky road?) and use this as a guideline for what seems reasonable.

Most importantly….
Why should we hire you?
Take this opportunity to reveal your organisational skills, positive attitude and confidence. Restate some of the key aspects of the job (which you’ve gleaned from the interview) and describe the traits that make you an ideal candidate for the position.


Go to the my career centre for more job interview tips.