5 May 2017

What you need to know about behavioural interview questions

Got an interview coming up or just want to be prepared for when you do? Ace your next interview by understanding and practicing behavioural job interview questions.

Behavioural job interview questions are used to assess your past behaviour to see how you would fit in with the team and organisation that you’re applying for. These questions generally start with the phrases like “tell us about a time when…” or “give us an example of when...”, and can be answered using the CAR model:

Choose an example/event from your past that is relevant to the question asked.

Outline your steps clearly and logically to show how you solved or tackle the situation described in the context above.

State what outcome your actions brought and offers data/statistics if applicable (e.g. raised 20% of the fund by employing xyz actions).

Here are 10 behavioural questions (with a sample answer to the first question to give you a head start). Have a go at answering them yourself!

Question 1. Describe a situation where you had to motivate your team members. What strategies did you use?

Sample answer:
During my time in my previous role, our team had to complete a one-month project in two weeks. We submitted our draft to our supervisor five days before the due date, and he identified some major flaws in our report. In turn it was required that we to re-do half of the work within less than a week before the deadline. Most of us became disheartened and even scared as some of us were on contract and failure to complete the task might hamper our future employment.
I arranged for a group meeting right away and started with asking them about the positive outcomes of our draft, and acknowledging that we could carry them out in such a short time frame. The next step forced us to prioritise, categorising the errors according to the tasks and divided them among us. This time, we reported to our supervisor every day to ensure we were on the right track, and after receiving feedback from our supervisor, we planned for the next day’s tasks.
Not only we submitted and presented the report on the due date but also secured another project with the organisation.

Question 2. Tell me about a time when your group members had disagreements with you regarding an opinion/idea. How did you approach it and solve it?

Question 3. Give me an example where you had to negotiate with a resistant audience at work. How did you persuade him/her?

Question 4. Describe a time when you had to work in a project with a person with whom you had interpersonal conflict. How did you deal with him to complete the project?

Question 5. Tell me about a time when you improved your team’s performance.

Question 6. Give me an example where you had to give someone constructive criticism.

Question 7. Describe a situation when you couldn’t meet deadline.

Question 8. Tell me about a time when you made a mistake. How did you deal with it?

Question 9. Describe a situation where you had identified a problem at your work and proposed and implemented a solution for it.

Question 10. Give me an example where you were misunderstood and things got heated. How did you handle yourself and the person in that stressful situation to reach a mutual understanding?

It is always good to prepare a set of answers for these types of behavioural interview questions before you attend the real interview. You can also research the organisation and the job role you are applying for, to prepare your own set of questions and answers. This will enhance your confidence, presentation skill and chance to nail the interview!

About the blogger
Anindita Roy Bannya, first year Master of HRM and IR student at the University of Sydney Business School and Careers Leader with the Careers and Employability Office.

What CEO programs you have participated in and why you loved being a part of it?
I have participated in Peer Mentoring and Career Leaders programs so far, and it was one of the best choices I have made here at USYD so far!! It is the diversity and the depth of the learning experience they offer I love most! Being part of it is like being part of a family who helps me grow professionally as well as personally.

Dream Career? 
Consultancy and Research

Where do you want to be in ten years?
As a  consultant in a renowned Think Tank, an academic, and planning for my own consultancy firm in the distant future.

What CEO service do you highly recommend students to utilise?
Everything that CEO offers is imperative to shaping a student's career progression. Among all, I would recommend students to go for resume review session and one-to-one career session. Additionally, I would suggest students follow CEO's Facebook page and blackboard to keep updated about important career events so that they can leverage the opportunities to prepare themselves for their career.

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