18 Common Behavioral Interview Questions & Answers

Christina J Colclough

By Christina Colclough

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A few years ago, interviewers preferred to investigate the candidate’s skill set listed on their resume. 

Behavioral Interview

However, times have changed. Now, they are more interested in analyzing your professional behaviors – and not just through theoretical-scenario questions. They want to listen to specific situations you have actually encountered in the past, a testament to the value of your unique experiences! 

You must be anxious to find a great way to narrate your stories. No worries; check out 18 behavioral-based interview questions and answers below.

18 Examples Of Behavioral Interview Questions

Interview Questions

1. Tell me about a time you had to work with someone with a different personality.

Why This Question?

A capable employee does not simply tolerate differences but actively leverages them to build a stronger team. Can you find ways to learn from each other’s strengths and working styles to achieve a better outcome?

Example Answer 

Back then, as a graphic designer at Design Co., I was partnered with Maya on a branding project for a new tech startup. 

Maya is an extroverted, highly creative designer who does not like to stick to formal plans. I, on the other hand, am more introverted and prefer a more structured design process. 

At first, Maya’s constant flow of ideas felt overwhelming, and I struggled to keep up. However, once I recognized the value of her creativity, I suggested brainstorming sessions at the beginning of the project to note down all her ideas. Then, I proposed individual work time to refine those concepts. We also agreed on clear milestones and communication channels to ensure we were both on the same page.

As Maya’s big-picture thinking was combined with my detail-oriented approach, we achieved remarkable success with our brand identity project. Clients were impressed with how our designs captured the startup’s modern, refreshing spirit.

2. Describe a situation where you disagreed with a teammate’s approach. How did you resolve it?

Why This Question?

This job interview question digs deeper into how you handle conflict.

Employees who refuse to open their minds to different perspectives (or struggle to advocate for their ideas respectfully) are unlikely to leave a strong impression. You should also demonstrate your ability to focus on the team’s goals despite disagreements.

Example Answer 

While working on a social media campaign for Green Gardens at a marketing agency, I disagreed with a teammate, Liam, on the target audience for our video ad. Liam felt we should target a younger demographic interested in trendy sustainability practices. On the other hand, I personally thought that our core audience was older homeowners who valued traditional gardening methods. 

However, I did not dismiss Liam’s idea outright; I still recognized the potential of reaching a new audience segment. Thus, I suggested conducting market research to understand their social media habits. The study confirmed my initial analysis but also revealed a pocket of younger customers interested in learning about traditional gardening from experienced homeowners. 

Liam and I decided to combine our ideas into a two-pronged campaign: a trendy video ad for the younger audience and informative tutorials targeted towards older demographics. This approach successfully expanded our reach and exceeded client expectations!

3. Give an example of when you had to delegate tasks within a team.

Why This Question?

Here’s your chance to show the interviewer that you can strategically assess your team members’ strengths and weaknesses. Effective task distribution does not just get the job done but also help them polish their professional skills.

Example Answer:

As a software development team lead at Tech Solutions, I was managing a project to develop a new mobile app. My team comprised both senior developers like Sarah and junior developers like David. 

Before we officially began, I evaluated their skill sets. Sarah had strong coding experience, while David was still learning the ropes. 

So, I assigned the app’s core functionalities to Sarah while still creating opportunities for David to learn. He was tasked with developing a simpler user interface element under Sarah’s mentorship. 

This way, Sarah could focus on complex coding while David gained valuable experience working on a real project. Most importantly, this delegation did not compromise the project’s overall quality, and we still met the tight deadline without fail.

4. How do you handle a situation where a team member isn’t pulling their weight?

Why This Question?

Most people in this situation would address the issue directly, but the interviewer expects more from a qualified candidate. You should motivate and empower that underperforming member, too, so they can improve their performance and contribute to the team’s success. 

Example Answer

Back when I was still a team lead at Acme Designs, I noticed a decline in Sarah’s work for a design project. Sarah is a talented designer, but her recent work lacked the usual creativity and attention to detail.

I was concerned, but I also wanted to avoid confrontation, so I scheduled a casual one-on-one meeting with Sarah to discuss the project. 

During the conversation, I openly praised her for her past strengths and contributions to the team; once she seemed to open up, I started asking open-ended questions to understand if she was facing any challenges or feeling uninspired. Sarah confided that she felt stuck in a creative rut and wasn’t sure how to approach the project brief. 

Now that I understood where the decline in her work’s quality came from, I suggested brainstorming sessions together to spark new ideas. I also offered to connect Sarah with a senior designer for mentorship.

This approach clearly motivated Sarah, and the brainstorming sessions also led to fresh ideas fueled by valuable guidance from her mentorship. Sarah successfully overcame her creative block and, once again, became one of my most productive members.

5. Tell me about when you faced a complex problem at work. How did you approach it?

answering questions during an interview

Why This Question?

The recruiter assesses your ability to break down complex problems into manageable steps. How you communicate with others when explaining the situation and potential solutions also plays a key role here.

Example Interview Answer 

As a data analyst at ABC Research, our team encountered a significant anomaly in a dataset crucial for a client presentation. The data points for user engagement with a new social media campaign were inexplicably low. 

To tackle this unexpected problem, I first documented the issue clearly by outlining the specific data points and the deviation from the expected results. I then contacted the marketing team responsible for the campaign; together, we divided the problem into smaller, more manageable questions. I investigated the data collection process for errors, and the marketing team reviewed their targeting parameters.

Through our shared effort, we finally identified a configuration error in the platform’s targeting settings. We fixed this issue before the due date, ensuring the data presented was accurate and reliable.

6. Describe a situation where you had to make a difficult decision with limited information.

Why This Question?

Interviewers want to examine your comfort level with ambiguity and, more importantly, your ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

Example Answer

When I was spearheading a project at Zenith Construction, the supplier we relied on encountered unforeseen circumstances and couldn’t deliver the materials on schedule. With almost no information on the potential delays, I knew I had to act quickly. 

First, I assessed the situation’s urgency: the missing component was crucial for the building’s structural integrity, and we could not proceed to the next steps without it. 

I then reached out to my network of contacts in the construction industry to identify alternative suppliers who might have the materials in stock. While waiting for good news from these contacts, I communicated the situation with my clients and outlined some possible solutions.

Fortunately, one of the contacts referred me to a reliable supplier with the necessary materials. I was able to secure them from a new source and minimize the project delay. This rewarding experience also taught me the importance of building strong professional relationships within the industry.

7. Give an example of a time you had to think creatively to solve a problem.

Why This Question?

When generating creative ideas, you must consider different perspectives and (if necessary) collaborate with others to brainstorm. From there, refine those ideas into practical solutions. That’s how a strong job candidate approaches and tackles their problem. 

Example Answer

Once, my web-developing team faced a challenge with a new e-commerce website. The shopping cart feature was experiencing high abandonment rates, which constantly led to lost sales.  

I analyzed website traffic patterns and conducted user surveys to understand where customers abandoned their carts. This research revealed a confusing checkout process with hidden fees that surprised and frustrated at the final stage. 

Based on this insight, I collaborated with the design team to simplify checkout and display fees upfront; we also tested out alternative payment options for a more user-friendly purchase experience. Our hard work paid off, and the cart abandonment rate saw a great decrease in just two weeks.

8. How do you handle making a mistake at work?

Why This Question

This common question focuses less on that particular mistake and more on how you learned from the experience. Do you identify the cause of the mistake or take steps to prevent similar errors in the future?

Example Answer

While budgeting for a new building project, I underestimated the cost of a specific material and accidentally caused a potential budget deficit. 

As soon as I discovered the error, I took full responsibility and immediately informed the project stakeholders. I then conducted a thorough review of the budgeting process to identify where the mistake occurred. It turned out I had relied on outdated material cost data!

Once I informed the project stakeholders and settled the issue with them, I immediately implemented a new system that regularly updates databases and also established a double-checking protocol for all budget estimates. This (thankfully rectifiable) mistake has made me a better, more observant project manager. 

9. Tell me about when you had to adapt your approach to a changing situation.

Why This Question?

Making sound decisions with limited time and under great pressure is not easy, but that’s exactly what sets a successful employee apart from the rest. 

Example Answer

During my time as a sales representative at Travel Adventures, I was leading a group tour in a foreign country when a sudden weather event forced the closure of a key landmark we were scheduled to visit.

Disappointed tourists expressed frustration with the change in plans, but I maintained a calm demeanor and quickly reassured the group. 

I then contacted local travel partners and discovered a nearby museum with a similar historical theme that was still open. I also negotiated a discounted group entry rate for the museum visit to minimize disruption as best as I could. Despite earlier protests, everyone soon settled and enjoyed this unplanned museum visit.

10. Describe a situation where you had to explain a complex idea to someone without prior knowledge.

Why This Question?

This experience will clearly reflect your communication skills. You should know how to identify the audience’s level of understanding and tailor your communication style accordingly, preferably with relevant examples and analogies.

Example Answer 

As a software developer at Technovation, I was tasked with training a new team member, David, on a complex database management system. I started with a basic conversation about data organization and storage concepts, and based on his responses, I realized he needed a more fundamental explanation. 

So, I decided to compare the database to a library; I explained how tables functioned like bookshelves, storing specific data points like individual books. I then used visuals like diagrams to illustrate how queries acted like search tools to retrieve specific information from the database. 

My language throughout the explanation was clear and non-technical, and I also encouraged David to ask questions if he had any. David quickly grasped the core concepts and progressed to more advanced training modules just two days later.

11. Give an example of when you had to deliver bad news to a client or colleague.

Feedback to Manager Examples

Why This Question?

You must show a positive and professional demeanor even when delivering negative information. 

Appropriate offers of potential solutions/next steps also help lessen the impact of the bad news, which, unfortunately, is not a skill anyone possesses. Show the recruiter how you are different from the rest. 

Example Answer

Our team encountered an unexpectedly long delay with a building material shipment for a client, Acme Industries, which threatened to push the project timeline far behind schedule.

I scheduled a meeting with the client’s project manager, Maria, and apologized for the inconvenience. 

While I still acknowledged the potential impact on the timeline, I did not linger too long on the bad news. I immediately outlined potential solutions we had been exploring (e.g., finding alternative materials and expediting shipping). Once Maria agreed with my proposal,  we then discussed a revised timeline and contingency plans. 

The project still had its ups and downs, even after this meeting. However, I’m proud to say I have successfully softened the impact of the delay and maintained my positive working relationship with Maria and her team. 

12. How do you handle situations where you have to give or receive constructive criticism?

Why This Question?

Criticism is a great tool for improvement, and you should show the interviewer how you leverage it to your advantage. Otherwise, failure to separate feedback from personal attacks or respond constructively will make it impossible to hone your professional skills in the long run. 

Example Answer

I was presenting a new travel package to a potential client. After my presentation, the client told me they felt the itinerary was a bit rushed and suggested including more free time for exploration.

I was still an inexperienced intern at the time, but I tried my best to tamp down the urge to get defensive. Instead, I actively listened to the feedback and discussed potential ways to adjust the itinerary for a more balanced approach. 

Later, when working with a different client, I kept the previous client’s feedback in mind and managed to end the presentation on a high note.

13. Tell me about a time you had to persuade someone to see your point of view.

Why This Question?

The key to winning an argument or persuading others is to anticipate objections and present your point in a way that’s logical and respectful while still considering the other person’s perspective. Such observant employees will excel in any project for which they are responsible. 

Example Answer

When I proposed a new design approach for my client, Mr. Rodriguez, he was initially resistant to the idea and favored a more traditional design style. 

I confirmed my understanding of his vision for the project, then presented my proposal via mood boards, concept sketches, and even 3D renderings to demonstrate how my approach still aligned with the project’s overall goals. I also highlighted the functional elements incorporated in the new design, which were also priorities for Mr.Rodriguez.

He was still skeptical, but at least I managed to persuade him to consider my approach a possibility instead of discarding it entirely. After a few more meetings, we decided to incorporate aspects of both his initial vision and my proposal. 

14. Describe a successful negotiation experience you’ve had.

Why This Question?

The ultimate goal of a negotiation is not to defeat an opponent – but to identify a win-win solution that addresses the needs of all parties involved. Hence, your story should be framed in a way that underscores your ability to pinpoint areas of compromise and navigate the arguments with professionalism. 

Example Answer

Two years ago, I was negotiating the final contract with a subcontractor for a kitchen renovation project. The subcontractor quoted a price that was slightly above our budget. 

Despite my initial surprise, I still maintained a respectful and professional tone, praising the quality of their previous work on similar projects. 

We then worked together to optimize the project scope and reduce costs without compromising on quality. For example, we identified alternative materials that met the design specifications while offering a slight cost saving. In the end, thanks to open communication, we finally reached a mutually beneficial agreement that stayed within budget. 

15. Describe a time when a client or customer was upset. How did you handle it?

Why This Question?

Excellent customer service goes hand in hand with active emotion management in stressful situations. Only then can you de-escalate the problem and work toward a resolution that leaves customers feeling valued. 

Example Answer

During my years as a sales associate at Fashion Boutique, I encountered a customer, Ms. Chen, who was upset because a dress she ordered online arrived damaged.

I acknowledged her frustration and offered sincere apologies for the damaged item. I then presented her with several options:

  • A full refund
  • Exchanges for the same dress in perfect condition
  • Store credits towards another item

Regardless of her chosen solution, I promised to expedite the processing to minimize further inconvenience. Ms.Chen eventually opted for the exchange and left the store in a much better mood than when she first entered.

16. Give an example of when you went above and beyond to meet a client’s needs.

Why This Question?

Not all clients state their needs explicitly. It’s your job to be proactive in your suggestions and demonstrate a genuine desire to deliver exceptional service.

Example Answer

As an event planner at Grand Events, I was coordinating a conference for a client, Technovation Inc. The initial agreement covered the venue, catering, and basic audio-visual equipment. 

However, a few days before the conference, the client’s lead presenter, Dr. Patel, informed me they required a specific software program to display complex data visualizations during his presentation. 

Unfortunately, this software wasn’t included in the standard AV equipment rental package, but that did not stop me. I contacted several AV equipment rental companies and negotiated a short-term rental for the specific software at a reasonable price. I also personally ensured the software was installed and tested on the presentation laptop beforehand to avoid any technical glitches during the conference. 

Dr. Patel and his entire team were very grateful for what I did. After the event had successfully wrapped up, he even offered extra payment, which was not detailed in the contract, to acknowledge all my efforts.

17. How do you handle a situation where a client or customer has unrealistic expectations?

Why This Question?

Communicating limitations without hurting your relationship with the customer is a crucial skill in any project. And that’s not all. It would help if you also offered alternative solutions that meet their needs as closely as possible. 

Example Answer 

I used to be a customer service representative at Tech Repair Xpress. On Saturday, a customer, Mr. Jones, brought in his laptop, expecting a data recovery service within a few hours. However, due to the complexity involved, our data recovery process typically takes 24-48 hours. 

I explained the standard turnaround time for data recovery and emphasized how a thorough, day-long process would benefit him more in the long run. I offered him a detailed process breakdown and promised to update him regularly on the important stages. 

To minimize disruption while his data was being recovered, I even offered to provide him with a temporary loaner laptop. Mr.Jones accepted my suggestion gratefully and was no longer persistent about his initial unrealistic timeline. 

18. Tell me about a time you had to learn a new skill quickly for your job.

Why This Question?

Your demonstration of a growth mindset speaks volumes about how you adapt to new situations, which is crucial to the company’s success in the face of constantly evolving industry trends. 

Example Answer

During my time as a marketing assistant at Organic Harmony, the company decided to implement a new customer relationship management (CRM) software system. 

Since I had no prior experience with this type of CRM software, I actively sought learning resources by myself. In addition to the online training modules provided by the company, I also took the initiative to shadow a more experienced colleague who was familiar with the software. Within less than two weeks, I could confidently use the software to manage customer data and track interactions.

Extra Tips to Ace A Behavioral Interview

  • Instead of dwelling on the situation or task, it’s crucial to shift the focus to the specific actions you took and their positive impact. This approach not only impresses recruiters like us but also showcases your ability to take initiative and achieve results.
  • Never bad-mouth past employers or colleagues! Even when dissatisfied with their work style, try to phrase it as a good-natured conflict rather than a bad quality.
  • Some interviewers might ask unexpected questions to assess your ability to think on your feet. Stay calm and take a moment to collect your thoughts before answering.

See more: 10 Signs An Job Interview Went Well


I hope the popular behavioral interview questions we just discussed give you a good sense of your interview process. Remember, practice makes perfect! If you need any clarification, don’t hesitate to contact my team.

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Christina J Colclough

Christina J. Colclough

Dr Christina J. Colclough is an expert on The Future World of Work and the politics of digital technology advocating globally for the importance of the workers’ voice. She has extensive regional and global labour movement experience, is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach, and strategist advising progressive governments and worker organisations.

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