Behavioral interview questions form a critical part of your job interview process. Some companies conduct a special behavioral interview round to assess your core skills and competencies. It is a method of screening the behavioral traits of a candidate during a job interview. In order to excel, you must come up with concrete examples to impress your interviewer.
Sail smoothly through this not-so-traditional interview round with our sample behavioral interview questions and answers.
How do you handle stress and pressure?
"A few months ago I took a week long leave from work. I canceled my meetings, moved most of my tasks to the next week, and did not reply to emails. Nobody took notice. Actually, I was stressed and paralyzed in bed by uncertainty. I could not find the courage to face my responsibilities. I was unhappy to the core. Now I am absolutely fine, don't worry! The thing is, all of us have been there before. Stress is an inherent part of being a job holder. I've learned to accept it when it happens, but not to ignore it either. To most of us, stress means having too many tasks on our plate. But I feel stress is caused by unpredictability, frustration, or a feeling of being powerless to change something. And no matter how successful and organized you are, at least a small part of your work is dealing with things you can't change. That is pressure and you will have to accept that. In order to beat it, I switch off the 'work-mode' after I reach home. I also exercise regularly, so that my body releases endorphins, that keep me happy!"
Why is work life balance important?
"If you love your job, work will never feel like work! It will culminate into life itself. I honestly believe that passion drives a true career-oriented person. However, work-life balance is important with respect to the family and friends who surround us. Hence, I maintain a balance by being cognizant to the fact that there needs to be a healthy stability between both. My weekends are dedicated to my family, provided there are no crunched timelines or major projects going on at work. I am also a travel buff, hence I ensure to go out on one long vacation and multiple short trips every year. This not only keeps my loved ones happy, but also recharges my own batteries!"
What is your management style?
"I don't have a template for reference. I believe that there is no set management style. The best manager is a person who leads by examples, not by command. I also prefer not to get bossed around by my supervisor! Managing people is a skill that I have learned from watching my seniors, listening, explaining expectations and working with my team. I try to teach them what teamwork is all about. I treat my employees with respect so that the feeling is mutual. I also step into their shoes before judging them outright."
Tell me how you handle an ethical dilemma.
"The way in which I handle an ethical dilemma, at work or outside work, strongly depends on where I find myself in relation to it. If it involves someone else, first and foremost, I try to step into the other person's shoes. At work, if my company has a code of ethics, I try and find out what it says about this particular situation. As a boss or colleague, instead of rushing into a judgement, I try and find out as much as I can about what has happened in the past, in relation with the case. If the dilemma involves me, I try and talk the situation through with my spouse and a close colleague. I strongly believe that a problem shared is often a problem halved. I try not to get too emotional, but I don't leave emotions out of the equation completely. Lastly, before I make a choice, I think deeply about the consequences of making this choice and also about who would suffer from it the most. Then I think about what I can do to avoid this from happening again. After making the final call, I keep an eye on the after effects of my decision."
Are you a good person?
"I consider myself to be a good person. I am nice. I always try to be compassionate towards others and not to forget, I readily help my colleagues and juniors at all times. Last month, our team was working on a complex project that had a tight deadline. Three young team members constantly felt frustrated and were having trouble in completing her tasks. But I never lost heart and kept working hard to achieve the goal. I completed all my tasks ahead of time so that I could pitch in and help them complete. I also encouraged 2 other motivated team members to pitch in and help the 3 underachievers finish their tasks. I was constantly all ears to the 3 young members and used to give them pep talks every day. Soon, they picked up pace and we were able to complete the project on time. I would like to put it this way - I am a good person as my niceness helped our team to successfully complete the project."
Are you a leader or a follower?
"I believe I am a leader. I don’t need to have people reporting to me to prove it. I believe my actions inspire others to learn more and do more within the team. I always go above and beyond my basic functions to deliver more. I always see my job role as a value add to the team, and I try to prove useful whenever and wherever I see see an opportunity. But I also know when to back down and respect another person's leadership. I have the ability to recognize where and when I need to back a colleague in a key supporting role. Hence I am a good mix of both a leader and a follower."
What are you most proud of?
"I am most proud of how I helped my company achieve a quarterly target with a little extra effort. The clients involved were finicky and new. It was a pain to get them to sign the deal as they constantly kept asking for multiple product demos, even until the last day i.e. the signing day! My present company reimburses only one onsite visit. Still I travelled all the way to their office three times in two months and I bore the expenses from my own pocket. Once I convinced them completely, I ensured that the deal was signed. I also spearheaded the user acceptance testing phase to ensure that the whole deployment went smoothly on client site. This experience has taught me that with a little bit of advanced planning, I can help my company achieve its goals."
Give an example of how you worked on a team.
“During my last semester in college, I worked as part of a research team in the Biotechnology department. Our HOD was himself leading this project and at that time, he was writing a book on “Plant Propagation by Tissue Culture”. We were each assigned different sections to focus on. I suggested my team that we should meet independently every second day to discuss our progress and help each other out if needed. The professor used to call us for weekly meetings and he really appreciated the way we worked proactively. This strategy helped him streamline the research and eventually he was able to start on his final copy months ahead of schedule.”
What actions and support can make your team or any team function successfully?
“I feel it is the commitment to work towards a goal together is the best way to do it. Realizing and working towards a common cause instills encouragement from within in every single team member. Apart from this, when a well defined and chalked out role is assigned to everyone, it instills a sense of responsibility and belongingness in them. Sometimes, a word or two of appreciation and rewards can help too.”
Did you ever handle a challenging situation as a leader?
“Last year, my manager had to go out of the city unexpectedly for a month. The team had an urgent deployment and our on-site coordinator was new. The onus was on me to document the entire deployment and prepare a PowerPoint presentation, which was actually my manager’s task. To do so with minimal errors, I decided to stay back with a few key team members, after office hours and conduct VOIP meetings. We took briefings from other experienced on-site managers and coordinators in these calls. Afterward I would conduct a one-hour long Knowledge Transfer session for the entire 20-member team every morning continuously for two weeks. The deployment turned out to be a success and I received an appreciation from the client. The best part was I got nominated for a star-achiever award in the same quarter.”
Did you ever handle a conflict or resolve an issue in the team?
“During my tenure as a Group Revenue Manager at ABC Hotel International, it came to my notice that my front-desk manager had become addicted to psychiatrist-prescribed anti-depressants. The girl’s performance was degrading day by day. Other staff members and guests were coming up to me with complaints about her sudden emotional outbursts during shifts. The girl seriously needed some help. I decided to talk it out with her in private. I specifically remember that I told her “I will not fire you unless you prove them wrong.” I also suggested a reputed psychologist’s weekend counseling therapy program to her. The psychologist is still a good friend of mine and his program was fortunately covered by our company’s medical insurance. The girl was eventually able to get back on track in two months and today, she is one of the top performers at ABC Hotel International.”
Share an example of how you were able to motivate your team or co-workers before it became a major problem.
“Negativity is a snowballing problem in every organization. Unchecked bad attitudes start out innocently, but in the long run, they can destroy the entire organization. I noticed early signs of this happening in one of my teams and I am happy that I took a stand to stop the same. Once, the Senior Delivery Manager and my team’s highly regarded mentor, had to resign due to some personal exigencies and a new person took over who was experienced in a totally different industry. This was the top management’s call to maximize profits over service. Some of my co-workers started showing resistance to this sweeping change. A few of them even showcased non-compliant attitudes and even broke a few rules here and there. But I recognized some of the benefits of having the new person, right off the bat. I was eventually able to motivate my colleagues and convinced them to give our company’s new strategy a chance to succeed.”
Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?
“To err is human and I am a human being, so I cannot be perfect, no matter how hard I try. But I believe improvement is better than perfection. Coming back to the question, yes, I have made mistakes. I can recollect a particular incident where I had misquoted the price of one of our core products in the final copy of a print magazine ad. I realized the mistake a day after the final draft had been dispatched through office courier to the press. I immediately explained my mistake to my supervisor, who was kind enough to appreciate my honesty. He made me call up the printing press immediately so that they could hold the print order for a few more hours. A few hours later, I emailed them the correct figures and other instructions. I did feel bad that I had made a gross mistake, but this incident taught me a lesson. Ever since I always proofread everything twice and pay close attention to minute details in my deliverable.”
What is your dream job?
"I would like to rephrase your question into 'What is my dream career?' My dream career involves doing what I am presently doing. I believe that I am on the right track to attain a career goal which I have set for myself. Everything I have learned to date on the job and outside relates to what I truly value as a professional. Besides, your organization also values these points, which is quite evident. Besides, I have always been eager to work in a collaborative environment that fosters a passionate team. I strongly believe that your organization encompasses the same. Hence the job role I am interviewing for right now is very close to my dream job position at present."