If you have been called up for a job interview, be ready to face some behavioral questions that can make you squirm and sweat. Behavioral interview questions are purposely made to put you under stress, make you lose confidence or make you feel humiliated. However, a little preparation ahead of time can help you face any questions with ease. Here, you can get an idea about some common behavioral questions with answers.
1. Tell me about a time when a group project you were on failed.
This question allows the interviewer to know how you cope with failure. People who can cope better are an asset for any company, big or small. The question also tries to find out if you have behavioral issues like blaming other members of the group, lack of cooperation etc.
The project that comes immediately to mind is when I and my friends were working on the alumni magazine for our college.
Although we were able to get sponsorships and had a good designing team, we took too much time to connect to the alumni for articles and missed a key deadline which was the annual alumni meet of the college.
The magazine got published, but we felt that if we had worked a bit more efficiently, the magazine would have reached the right audience.
2. What is the biggest challenge you ever had to overcome?
Challenges make people stronger. Difficult situations, whether in private or personal life, teach us several lessons, one of which is Never Give Up. Your ability to deal with such situations gives an insight of your abilities.
Several years back, I suffered from bronchitis due to which I spewed blood every time I coughed. I was afraid to tell anyone so I did not let anybody know about it. The illness was painful, not only physically but mentally too. Every day I thought, I would die the next day.
Finally, I gathered enough courage to talk with my parents about my health and underwent treatment immediately. Here I am today fully recovered. From that point, I have learned, nothing is impossible unless you lack enthusiasm and courage.
3. What is your biggest achievement up to now?
Good people are proud of their achievements. Employers want to see the shine in your eyes when they ask this question.
My biggest achievement is when I got an opportunity to represent my state in the USAFL National Championships. I have been playing football since my childhood days and to finally see it all coming together was a proud moment for me and my family.
4. How would you work effectively under pressure?
Some people work well under pressure and some others budge. Your way of dealing with pressure situations and tight deadlines shows your attitude towards work.
Obviously, in any line of work, there are times when we need to give that extra push to get work done. I usually make a personal commitment to myself that I will take the task to completion no matter what it takes.
During times when I have to work under pressure, the first thing I do is let my family and close friends know that I might not be available for the next X days because of a tight schedule. That way, I can not only concentrate on the task at hand but also prevent myself from getting into relationship issues with my closed ones because they understand my situation better.
5. Tell me about a time when you had to work with the most difficult individual. How did you manage to work with that person?
You will not like ALL your colleagues. People who are confrontational and irritable might not be able to adapt to the workspace. How you handle someone who you don’t like says a lot about you, and how you talk about that person says even more.
I had a manager who would ask us for opinions but never implemented anything we said. I and my colleagues felt that our inputs mattered and that the project was going in the wrong direction.
I talked about my concerns to my colleagues and talked to my superiors about the situation. Since everyone in my team was in agreement about the manager’s apathy, the project manager was changed.
6. Tell me about a time you had to confront a friend.
The interviewer is looking at how you handle sensitive situations. In any business or job, people who are articulate with their words and actions are invaluable.
There was one time when one of my friends decided to go on a trip to the Maldives. I did some research and found that a political conflict was brewing in the country and I advised her not to go there. But she was adamant about it.
So I sat her down and showed her all the news items that pointed towards the conflict and explained to her that risking your life this way wasn’t the right thing to do.
7. Describe how you handled the situation when your trustworthiness was challenged.
Disagreements are a fact of life and trust is the fuel of business. People feel hurt when someone doesn’t trust them. Some people handle the situation in a proactive and positive way while some others break down. Guess who the employers want to hire?
Once, when I was in school, I forgot to take my notebook; the very one in which I had done my assignment. The teacher asked me to submit my work and when I explained my fault she denied believing my words. My repeated efforts to explain to her that I had indeed completed my assignment failed.
I felt that my teacher would never believe in me in future if I didn’t prove my words. That’s why, during the lunchtime, I skipped my lunch, called my father and requested him to bring my notebook from home to school.
Maybe it was the tone of urgency in my voice that persuaded him and he brought my notebook to me. I showed it to my teacher before the school hour ended and prevented the trust from being broken.
8. When you worked on multiple projects, how did you prioritize the projects?
Multitasking is a valuable skill to have in today’s job market. More and more jobs demand this ability. But multitasking is inefficient and your ability to triage what is urgent and what is important can set you apart.
I had once read about the Important/Urgent matrix. The matrix consists of 4 boxes; Important and Urgent (Q1), Urgent but not Important (Q2), Important but not Urgent (Q3), and Not Important and not Urgent (Q4). You place all your tasks strategically into the most appropriate box, where Q1 tasks would be done first and Q4 tasks would be completed last. I followed the same rule.
9. Have you had to convince a team to work on a project they weren’t excited about? How did you do it?
When you are working in a team, staying motivated yourself is not enough. Your capability to stimulate the people around you also matters.
In the recent past, my band was offered a gig at a venue that wanted us to play songs we didn’t like much. We needed cash to buy better gadgets but everyone in the band felt that it wouldn’t be dignified.
I sat down with everyone and convinced them that, to perform the music we love and do it better than everyone else we needed the gadgets. One by one, all the band members were convinced and we finally played at the venue. We bought some good gadgets later and the whole team felt good about the whole experience.
10. Have you handled a difficult situation with a client, with a supervisor or with another department? How?
The ability to deal with people is the most underrated quality that is often overlooked in your GPA.
I once had to develop software for a company (client). During the process, I needed to fix a bug that required me to get access to some files which were owned by another team. I emailed the team leader regarding the issue but I got no response. So I kept emailing but all they would do was keep me waiting.
On the other hand, the client was getting impatient and I realized that the situation can worsen. I escalated the issue to my immediate superior and he talked directly with the project leader of another team. That way, the other team prioritized my request and the issue was solved before the situation got out of hand.