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Top Behavioral Interview Questions:

1. Can you tell me about a stressful situation at work and how you handled it?

Asking this question can give you an idea of how the candidate performs under pressure. Consider whether they would be likely to encounter situations with a similar stress factor as the one they describe in your employ and inquire whether they would be confident dealing with similar or more intense situations.

You may also want to ask what kind of support they would expect from your company in this respect. Be prepared to provide information regarding the policies your company follows to reduce the potential for stressful situations, the processes you expect employees to follow should they feel overwhelmed, and any support or training you offer.

Red flags: The candidate describes an aggressive and counter-productive response to stressful situations.

2. Can you describe a time when you disagreed with your supervisor on how to accomplish something?

This question can provide some insight as to how the candidate goes about proposing alternative approaches and responds to authority. Ideally, the candidate will describe a suggestion they made with an explanation supported by sound reasoning that either improved the accuracy of the outcome, the timeline, or both.

Also, pay attention to the way the candidate reports how their supervisor responded to their suggestion, how the candidate reacted to the response, and how the task was ultimately accomplished.

Red flags: The candidate makes personal derogatory remarks about the supervisor.

3. Have you ever had to convince your team to do a job they were reluctant to do? Please elaborate.

Gain an understanding of the candidate's leadership skills with this question. A candidate who can motivate a team in a positive and supportive manner to perform an undesirable task to the best of their abilities is a valuable asset to any company and will contribute greatly to the development of a healthy work environment.

Red flags: The candidate mentions the use of shaming and intimidation.

4. Have you ever had a deadline you were not able to meet? What happened? What did you do?

In addition to learning about a candidate's time management skills, this question also reveals how the candidate manages situations in which they did not complete their work on time. Look for candidates who take full responsibility and display a solution-oriented mindset in seeking to resolve the situation and avoid similar scenarios in the future.

Red flags: The candidate seeks to shift the blame.

5. Tell me about a time your co-workers had a conflict. How did you handle it?

This question will show whether a candidate is likely to get involved in others' conflicts. While getting unnecessarily involved in an argument simply to be part of it is an undesirable character trait, a candidate who describes an excellent display of diplomacy that resolved a situation shows good leadership and people management skills.

Red flags: The candidate blindly sides with one party and escalated the issue.

6. How have you prioritized being assigned multiple projects?

Asking about how a candidate manages a large workload and prioritizes tasks provides insight into their working method. Someone with a calm and strategic approach is likely to get through their work more efficiently and with less margin for error than someone who is easily overwhelmed.

Red flags: The candidate shows signs of being easily overwhelmed and making irrational decisions to the detriment of the projects they were assigned.

7. Can you tell me about a difficult work challenge you’ve had?

How a candidate deals with a difficult work challenge can reveal how adept they are at solving problems. Look for someone who carefully considers the task at hand, displays logical thinking when approaching the issue, and is not afraid to ask for help.

Red flags: The candidate gave up without trying or asking for help.

8. Can you describe a time when you had to adapt to big changes at work?

Over time, a company's structure, policies, and procedures often evolve and can change considerably. While big changes are not always easy to introduce and establish as the new status quo, employees who display a great deal of flexibility and openness to new ways of doing things can make these transitions easier for a business.

When employees are reluctant to adapt to changes at work, this presents the risk of adversely affecting not only their output and morale at work but also that of their team and operations in general.

Red flags: The candidate portrays a very rigid mindset when it comes to change.

9. How have you dealt with an angry or upset customer?

If the role you are looking to fill includes contact with customers, this is a crucial question to include in the interview. You'll want to find a candidate who shows a great deal of patience and understanding but also remains firm and professional.

Red flags: The candidate displays a lack of composure and a tendency to overreact when confronted with an angry customer.

10. Have you ever gone above and beyond to help a customer? What did you do?

When it comes to providing great customer service, an employee who goes above and beyond to help a customer can be a valuable asset. However, it is equally important to ensure that employees don't cross the line and that their actions in helping customers do not conflict with company policies and procedures or seep into their personal lives.

Red flags: The candidate shows a reluctance to do any more than the bare minimum to help customers.

11. Can you tell me about a time when you had to fight for an idea at work?

Employees who keep an open mind and identify areas at work that can be improved can be valuable sources of innovation. This question can reveal the candidate's tenacity when it comes to getting their ideas implemented at work and how they present their proposals to stakeholders.

Red flags: The candidate shows no interest in sharing ideas for improvement at work and displays a resentful attitude.

12. Talk about a time when you had to make an important decision quickly. What did you decide and what were the results?

This question assesses the candidate's ability to think on their feet and make an informed decision under time pressure. Let the candidate walk you through their decision-making process and find out if, in hindsight, they believe it was the right decision to make given the circumstances and the information that was at their disposal at the time.

Red flags: The candidate admits to not giving the decision any thought.

13. Have you ever been in a situation at work that was ethically questionable? What did you do?

While tricky situations that venture into an ethically gray area can arise, it is good to find out where a candidate stands on the subject. You don't want to hire a candidate who may put the company at risk.

Red flags: The candidate appears to have no qualms about ethically questionable behavior.

14. Have you ever had a project that had to change drastically while it was in progress? Why? How did you do it?

With this question, you can find out how flexible a candidate is and whether they are well equipped to manage drastic changes on the job. It should reveal how the candidate assesses newly arisen situations and creates a plan of action to adjust to the new direction of a project.

Red flags: The candidate abandoned the project.

15. Talk about a time when a co-worker was not doing their share on a project. How did you handle it?

When a co-worker is perceived to be slacking off, this can directly impact team morale. A great candidate would not let this affect their productivity and, if the situation is ongoing, attempt to broach the topic in private, showing empathy and taking care not to adopt an accusatory tone.

Red flags: The candidate slacks off themselves or acts verbally aggressive or derogatory toward the co-worker, creating a hostile work environment.

16. Tell me about a major setback you’ve had. How did you deal with it?

While a major setback at work can dampen anyone's spirit, it is important not to dwell on the issue but to assess and address it. Look for candidates who, instead of letting difficulties, disappointments, and complications dishearten them, look at setbacks as a learning experience.

Red flags: The candidate displays a defeatist attitude.

17. What have you done when colleagues have been stressed out by a project?

This question reveals how a candidate works in a team and particularly how they might influence team members. Candidates who maintain a positive and motivated attitude are likely to lift team morale when spirits are low — even more so if they also can identify key stressors and find ways to resolve or ease them.

Red flags: The candidate is dismissive of their colleagues' concerns.

18. Talk about a difficult problem you’ve had to solve. How did you solve it?

Learn more about how a candidate approaches a problem and comes up with a solution. It should reveal what the candidate considers when assessing the issue at hand and how they develop an approach to address it and reach the desired outcome.

Red flags: The candidate pawned off the problem on a colleague.

19. Have you ever had to defend a customer’s point of view? What did you do? Why?

This question can reveal a candidate's commitment to understanding and helping solve issues brought forward by customers. A candidate who is not afraid to draw attention to a customer's concerns that they believe have merit can be a driver of positive change in a company and a valuable, engaged employee.

Red flag: The candidate generally disregards customers' views.

20. Can you tell me about a problem you solved in a unique or creative way?

The ability to come up with a creative solution for a problem when established methods fail is a great skill to bring to the table. It displays both independent and innovative thinking, as well as a sense of initiative.

Red flags: Depending on the role you are recruiting for, assess whether the absence of creative problem-solving skills is a deal breaker.

Personality Interview Questions

15 personality interview questions with a free template included.


How long should behavioral interview answers be?

While factual questions should be the shortest, behavioral questions should last between one and two minutes.

Are behavioral interview questions effective?

Behavioral interviews can work because it replaces generic interview questions with questions about candidates' past experiences. The problem with this approach is that candidates can invent examples of their past behavior and prepare responses to predictable questions.

What is a behavioral interview?

A behavioral interview is one in which the interviewer is focused on how candidates handled real situations in their past work experiences.

Why should I use behavioral interview questions?

Behavioral job interview questions can push candidates past generic answers by forcing them to relay personal history. They should give you an idea of how a candidate behaved in real situations, rather than their take on how you think they should have reacted.

What are some of the common behavioral interview questions?

  • Tell me about a stressful situation at work and how you handled it.
  • Describe a time when you disagreed with your supervisor on how to accomplish something.
  • Have you ever had to convince your team to do a job they were reluctant to do?
  • Have you ever had a deadline you were not able to meet? What happened? What did you do?
  • Tell me about a time your co-workers had a conflict. How did you handle it?
  • How have you prioritized being assigned multiple projects?
  • Tell me about a difficult work challenge you’ve had.
  • Talk about a time when you had to adapt to big changes at work.

Why is behavioral interviewing important?

Behavioral interviewing is important because there is a well-documented history of using past performance as an indicator of future performance when it comes to hiring candidates. By providing real-life examples of their past behavior, candidates can give employers a more accurate idea of their abilities.

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