How to prepare for & answer behavioural interview questions

How to answer behavioural interview questions

Answering behavioural interview questions

Behaviour based interview questions are asked by hiring managers to gain an understanding on how you would be likely to handle a range of real-world challenges based on your previous behaviour facing similar circumstances. Whereas situational questions look at how you would approach specific scenarios, competency-based questions assess that you have the necessary skills required, and behavioural questions attempt to establish if you have the character traits the interviewer is looking for. These questions are important for an employer to understand how you would fit within in an existing team.

Behavioural interview questions and answers

Behaviour based interview questions in a job interview, test the principle that a candidate’s past behaviour is the best predictor of their future behaviour. These questions can touch on a range of areas such as your ability to work as part of a team, client-facing skills, your adaptability, time management skills and, will usually align with the job description, so it helps to think of past scenarios that can apply to what is required as part of the job description.

While the questions will be broad, your answers should feature particular scenarios that demonstrate how you behave when facing certain challenges. Start by giving context to the scenario, what happened, and how you were able to overcome the challenge in a way that reflects well on your character.

Behavioural interveiw question examples

Typical behavioural interview question #1

“Give me an example of something you tried in your job that didn’t work. How did you learn from it?”

  • How to answer: For some roles an important part of your job is being creative and thinking outside the box for possible solutions. However having great creativity means you will have ideas that inevitably get pushed back on. Realising this and not being disheartened by it, may be important for an employer to understand. When the interviewer asks this question, they will be looking for evidence of your willingness to learn from what did and didn’t work.

  • Example of a good answer: “Working in customer service for a community health club, we had the idea of offering one-off, month-long memberships. However, not enough people who took up these memberships ended up purchasing a longer-term membership for it to be cost-effective for the business. We therefore switched to making our shortest contract six months long and found that this did a better job of keeping the health club profitable.”

Typical behavioural interview question #2:

“Tell me about a time you had a solution you thought was correct, but still had to follow directions or guidelines.”

  • How to answer: The best response to this question is one that shows you are a responsible team player who – even if you disagree with a particular direction, you are still able to cooperate, while remaining motivated and helping to keep colleagues motivated as well.

  • Example of a good answer: “The deadline for sign off on a report was looming, so I worked with my other team members to finalise and quantify the market research we’d agreed upon. We met the deadline, but I did have concerns about the relevance of the date range used in our research. This was raised and we were able to make some good changes to the status quo to help to prevent the same situation arising again, and decided to conduct similar research in the future over a longer period of time, to ensure more effective results."

Typical behavioural interview question #3:

“Describe a time you provided exceptional customer service in a challenging situation”

  • How to answer: The interviewer is looking for evidence that even when met with challenging scenarios, you are still able to put that to the side and provide good experiences for customers, demonstrating your ability to be a team player.

  • Example of a good answer: “There was a mistake made where we couldn’t meet a client's requirements anymore through external factors. I was able to work with my team to provide an alternative solution that made the client happy that we would go out of our way for them and in turn we were able to keep their business.”


How do you pass a behavioural interview?

Behavioural questions are similar to normal interview questions, in that you can use a situation or challenge from past work experience to answer the question in detail. Have a group of experiences ready to go that can apply to most questions, and you’ll be able to pass with ease.

What are behavioural-based interview questions?

Behavioural questions take into account that your past behaviour will dictate your future behaviour and decision making. They vary across a wide variety of different scenarios but will give the interviewer a good indicator on how you will fit into the team culture.

Looking for more advice on interview preparation and job hunting in addition to learning about behavioural interview questions and answers? Download our Job Interview Guide or read more career advice.

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