For questions like these, you want a story that illustrates your ability to work with others under challenging or stressful circumstances. Think team conflict, difficult project constraints or clashing personalities.
Talk about a time when you had to work closely with someone whose personality was very different from yours.
Give me an example of a time you faced a conflict while working on a team. How did you handle that?
Describe a time when you struggled to build a relationship with someone important. How did you eventually overcome that?
We all make mistakes we wish we could take back. Tell me about a time you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.
If the role you’re interviewing for works with clients, be ready for one of these. Find an example of a time where you successfully represented your company or team and delivered exceptional customer service.
Describe a time when it was especially important to make a good impression on a client. How did you go about doing so?
Give me an example of a time when you did not meet a client’s expectation. What happened, and how did you attempt to rectify the situation?
Tell me about a time when you made sure a customer was pleased with your service.
Describe a time when you had to interact with a difficult client. What was the situation, and how did you handle it?
Ability to Adapt
Times of turmoil are finally good for something! Think of a recent work crisis you successfully navigated. Even if your navigation didn’t feel successful at the time, find a lesson or silver lining you took from the situation.
Tell me about a time you were under a lot of pressure. What was going on, and how did you get through it?
Describe a time when your team or company was undergoing some change. How did that impact you, and how did you adapt?
Tell me about the first job you’ve ever had. What did you do to learn the ropes?
Give me an example of a time when you had to think on your feet in order to delicately extricate yourself from a difficult or awkward situation.
In other words, get ready to talk about a time you juggled multiple responsibilities, organized it all (perfectly) and completed everything before the deadline.
Tell me about a time you had to be very strategic in order to meet all your top priorities.
Describe a long-term project that you managed. How did you keep everything moving along in a timely manner?
Sometimes it’s just not possible to get everything on your to-do list done. Tell me about a time your responsibilities got a little overwhelming. What did you do?
Give me an example of a time you managed numerous responsibilities. How did you handle that?
You probably won’t have any trouble thinking of a story for communication questions, since it’s not only part of most jobs; it’s part of everyday life. However, the thing to remember here is to also talk about your thought process or preparation.
Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way at work.
Tell me about a time when you had to rely on written communication to get your ideas across to your team.
Give me an example of a time when you had to explain something fairly complex to a frustrated client. How did you handle this delicate situation?
Tell me about a successful presentation you gave and why you think it was a hit.
Motivation and Values
A lot of seemingly random questions are actually attempts to learn more about what motivates you. Your response would ideally address this directly even if the question wasn’t explicit about it.
Tell me about your proudest professional accomplishment.
Describe a time when you saw some problem and took the initiative to correct it rather than waiting for someone else to do it.
Give me an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or difficult about it?
Tell me about a time you were dissatisfied in your work. What could have been done to make it better?
The STAR Approach: A Behavioral Interview Technique
Situation or Task:
Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand. This situation can be from a previous job or internship, from a volunteer work or a specific situation.
Action you took:
Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did -- not the efforts of the team. Don't tell what you might do, tell what you did.
Results you achieved:
What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?
Use examples from internships, classes and school projects, activities, team participation, community service and work experience as examples of your past behavior. In addition, you may use examples of special accomplishments, whether personal or professional—such as winning a competition, having your first exhibition, winning a prize for your artwork or raising money for charity. Wherever possible, quantify your results. Numbers always impress employers
Remember that many behavioral questions try to get at how you responded to negative situations; you'll need to have examples of negative experiences ready, but try to choose negative experiences that you made the best of or, better yet, those that had positive outcomes.
Here's a good way to prepare for behavior-based interviews:
Identify six to eight examples from your past experience where you demonstrated top behaviors and skills that employers typically seek. Think of examples that will exploit your top selling points.
Half of your examples should be totally positive, such as accomplishments or meeting goals.
The other half should be situations that started out negatively but either ended positively or you made the best of the outcome.
Vary your examples; don't take them all from just one area of your life.
Use fairly recent examples. If you're a college student, examples from high school may be too long ago.
Try to describe examples in story form using the STAR method.
Right before you're interviewed, review your resume. Seeing your achievements in print will jog your memory. In the interview, listen carefully to each question and pull an example out of your bag of tricks that provides an appropriate description of how you demonstrated the desired behavior. With practice, you can learn to tailor a few examples to respond to a number of different behavioral questions.
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