Behavioral interview questions help interviewer understand how successful you are at problem-solving. They require you to share a specific story that highlights your personality, skills and strength.
In this article we offer some recommendations and examples of such questions to help you prepare and feel confident during an interview.
Tell me about a difficult situation and how you managed it?
- Talk about a problem you solved or a mistake you made and what you learned from it
- Break the story down into steps, describe each step you took and how that helped solve the problem
- Describe how the situation got better at the end
- First, I…
- I started by…
- Then I…
- After that…
How to answer
Once, I was brought on the project that had many issues with how it was organized. The project was very poorly documented, the team was using old technologies that were difficult to maintain and the client was unhappy with their work and wanted to end the contract. My job was to structure and optimize the team’s work.
I started by designing a progress chart with subtasks, progress status and relevant metrics that can be tracked over time so that the client and I could see problem areas we need to prioritize. I then prioritized organizing the workflow and implementing scrum which helped the team to start communicating more effectively and be clear on their tasks and goals. After that, we started the process of upgrading to more modern technologies. Eventually, we completely switched from jQuery to React and implemented a better bug tracking system.
Two months after I came on board, the project was fully documented, the team was in sync and the client was much happier with the product.
Tell me about a challenge you’ve faced at work and how you dealt with it?
- Write down examples of challenges you had to overcome at work and pick the most impressive one that best illustrates your skills
- Consider picking examples of challenges that prove your problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, ability to work under pressure, leadership and communication skills.
- Use the STAR approach (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Start by giving some background about the situation (you will typically use Past Continuous for this — e.g. “Last winter I was working on a big project when I encountered an issue). Then state the task you had to tackle (make sure you use “had to” and not “should” in your answer). Then, describe which concrete steps you took to resolve the issue. Finally, describe the end result.
- There was a time when…
- Once …
- I had to …
- First, I (performed an evaluation)
- Then, I (brainstormed a solution with the team)
- We faced / ran into an issue
- I managed to …
- As a result …
How to answer
Last winter, I was working on a healthcare project. The app we were making was almost ready when a new legal regulation came into effect according to which the user could request for their data to be deleted at any time.
My team and I had to figure out how to implement that functionality and since the app was using a third-party API to process and store user data, we ran into some issues with accessing that data.
We were on a tight deadline so I took on the task of resolving that issue but since dealing with database queries isn’t my main area of expertise, I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. I reached out to someone working on a different team at my company and he was able to give me a few useful pointers. I implemented his advice and we managed to release the app on time while also being in full compliance with the law.
What is the thing you’re most proud of in your career?
- Whenever you need time you think about your answer, use phrases like “Let me see”, “That’s a good question”, “It’s hard to think of a good answer off the top of my head” and “I’d say that…”
- Give examples of something valuable you did for other people (co-workers, customers etc.)
- Highlight a soft skill or quality that makes you a good match for the role (critical thinking, teamwork, leadership, ability to inspire people etc.)
- If you can, give examples of quantifiable achievements (e.g. helped increase the revenue by 25%; automated a process that resulted in a 50% increase in productivity etc.)
- I take pride in (my ability to find elegant solutions)
- I succeeded in (doing something)
- I keep (challenging myself)
- I like to get out of my comfort zone
How to answer
I’d say that I take pride in embracing challenges. I like to get out of my comfort zone and do things that look scary because it helps you grow. In the past, I took on roles where I had to learn on the fly and tackle multiple challenges at the same time. In the last few projects that I did, my team and I had to learn a new tech stack from scratch and solve problems we’d never encountered before. Sometimes it felt like I had no idea what I was doing but my ability to break down complex problems into manageable tasks and the support of my teammates helped me produce a great result that I was very proud of in the end. Another thing that makes me feel proud is good feedback from colleagues, customers, and end-users. It helps me stay motivated.