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Behavioural interview questions are specific to discovering how an interviewee will act in particular scenarios based on their previous experience and logic.
Behavioural interview questions are very important because interviewers widely use it to assess your future performance based on your answers. They are so common that it's unlikely you'll get through any interview without coming across at least one of these types of behavioural questions.
It's more than expected these days that interviewers will ask some common behavioural questions such as: "How have you overcome obstacles? How have you dealt with conflict in team settings? How do you prioritise your workload to meet deadlines? What are the process improvements you have made in your recent position?"
You're not alone if you're drawing a blank right now.
While there are many online resources to prepare answers and examples for behavioural interviews, here's Randstad's take on answering the five most common behavioural interview questions from our long history of placing candidates in their dream roles:
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1. describe a stressful work situation and what you did about it.
As with the rest of these behavioural questions, it's good to be candid — but only to a point. You don't need to describe the worst thing that ever happened to you at work. But you do need to make it clear that the stressful situation you're describing to the interviewer, however bad it was, wasn't stressful thanks to your thorough preparation and management.
One safe bet is to talk about a presentation you had to give. During the interview, you could discuss how you prepared for it and any hiccups you encountered. Finish the answer with how the presentation was received by your audience and what you learned from the situation.
The stronger the takeaway or lesson your can share with the interviewer, the better. For example, you could share with the interviewer the positive feedback you received from your manager or audience following your presentation.
Structure your interview example with how you turned a challenge into an opportunity—putting more emphasis on the solution after briefly describing the problem for context. Don’t forget to share the positive outcome that was achieved and what your learned through your efforts.
2. describe a project you worked on as part of a team.
Teamwork is such a vital part of success for every organisation, and employers will highly prize the ability to collaborate effectively and communicate clearly. Candidates for highly collaborative roles may find that they are hired or not, based on team camaraderie. Therefore it's a very common behavioural interview question that you could be asked.
When developing your answer to this behavioural question based on your experience, it's better to use a successful project rather than one that failed.
Focus on describing the project's goals. Go into the specifics, like your responsibilities and how overall tasks were divided among team members.
It is best to prepare your answer to this behavioural question carefully and patiently work through your answer in the interview, as you'll need to take the interviewer through it step-by-step.
3. how did you resolve a difficult situation with a client or vendor?
One key aspect of behavioural interview questions is that they highlight processes and outcomes. It's part of the reason they are so valuable for employers.
Your prospective employer wants to know that you can work within an established framework to solve problems. That's why, as ordinary as it sounds, the best answer to this behavioural question is to talk about your communication skills.
For example, describe a situation where you calmly addressed an issue with the client or vendor while alerting internal senior stakeholders of the problem and how you worked with them to find a solution. Again, here it is important to highlight the outcome that resulted from your work with the client and stakeholders to reach a positive solution.
4. when you've disagreed with coworkers, how did you handle it?
This is another behavioural interview question about communication, but in this case, your goal is to describe a situation where the conflict was resolved and a compromise was found. After all, people working in teams always bring different points of view to the table. A team’s success depends on employees being able to discuss and work through these differences to reach positive solutions or workable and agreeable compromises.
Think about your experience working in teams and the times you've had to resolve any potential conflict.
Remember that the way a compromise was reached doesn't always need to come about through formal or public interactions. If you and your colleague discussed the situation and arrived at a solution over lunch, that might be proof of the tact and diplomacy you bring to solving problems.
5. tell me about your proudest professional accomplishment.
This behavioural interview question should be a home run with preparation and practice. Make sure you connect your accomplishment back to the duties and responsibilities of the role you are applying for. That way, your accomplishment isn't just something that happened in the past but something that you can bring to the table today.
It’s important to realise that the interviewer is also trying to uncover what motivates you with this question. Therefore, remember to relate your accomplishment to the role that you're applying and interviewing for, and you’ll be well on your way to be the standout candidate for the role.
We have plenty of helpful interview tips and hints to share that'll make you feel confident and ready to shine in no time!
Read our article about 'how to shine at your next interview' to learn more.