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If you’re looking for the ultimate list of behavioral interview questions, then you’ve come to the right place!
A recent study of the 2022 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, shows that tech startups contributed to nearly $6.4 trillion in global startup value creation. Clearly, the statistics highlight the importance of tech startups and small businesses in contributing to the world's net economic development.
Whether you’re looking to land a job with a big player or hoping to make a difference with a newer startup, you’re 100 percent in demand.
Tech startups usually split the interview process into different stages, which include a phone interview as the first step and a behavioral interview as the second step, followed by more technical and group assessments afterward.
This article will focus entirely on the behavioral interviews and what you need to do to ace them!
I’ll tackle 23 of the most common behavioral interview questions, but first, let’s take a look at why companies ask them.
What is the purpose of behavioral interview questions?
Is it a brand-new method of torture?
Are these inquiries being made to trip you up?
The purpose of behavioral interview questions is to understand who you are, how you think, and how you approach real-world dilemmas.
The interviewer can determine how well you might (or might not) fit into the existing team based on your responses to these behavioral questions.
While the goal of the interviewer is to learn more about you, your goal is to position yourself in the best possible light. Each of your responses should focus on one of the following themes:
- A willingness to help another individual
That said, you should also keep your answers as realistic as possible. It’s a delicate balance between pride and humility. It’s a lot easier to keep that balance when you stay focused on one of the above themes. Also, most behavioral interview questions can be separated into 5 groups:
- Problem Solving
- Working on a Team
- Biggest Failures
- Personal Stress
The most common behavioral interview questions & answer tips
The 23 most typical behavioral interview questions are listed below, along with advice on how to respond to each one.
1. Give me an example of a project you took the initiative or started independently.
It can be a non-business one. What prompted you to get started?
Answer Tip: Describe how you were able to use existing skills or learn skills to work for yourself. Demonstrate that you are comfortable in your skin and can work independently when required.
Tempting as it may be to focus only on yourself, don’t forget to give credit to your team if they joined the project later on.
Try to use examples where you went beyond your day role to take on extra responsibility. Be Humble!
2. Tell me about a time you had to work on several projects at once.
How did you handle this?
Answer Tip: Describe your process for handling multiple tasks at the same time.
3. Describe a time when you faced difficulty or a stressful problem at work and how you solved it.
What is your internal dialogue when you’re going through a stressful situation? How do you work through a stressful problem?
Answer Tip: Work through your process of resolving blocks you faced.
It’s effective to talk about strategies you use to manage stressful situations.
4. Tell me about when you had to deal with conflict within your team.
How was the conflict solved? How did you handle that? How would you deal with it now?
Answer Tip: Explain how you worked through the issue – show off your communication skills, it’s ok if you didn’t come out of the disagreement on top, your interviewer is looking for your ability to handle the conflict itself.
5. Give me an example of a time you had to take a creative and unusual approach to solve a coding problem.
How did this idea come to your mind? Why do you think it was unusual?
Answer Tip: Think about a way that you surprised yourself with an unexpected idea. Did you follow a "creative process" or was your creativity more spontaneous in the situation?
6. Describe a situation in which you worked on a Team project and it did not produce the desired results.
Why didn't you get the desired results? What did you learn from the experience?
Answer Tip: Be honest and show how you can learn from your failures. Don’t blame your team members for your failure; focus on the objective reasons that led to team failure and what you learned from it.
Try using examples from a time when you participated in a hackathon. This usually works well for questions like this, especially if you had a good idea and got some recognition for it.
This is a time when you would’ve generated a lot of ideas in collaboration with a team in a short span of time and solved a lot of problems. This is a great way to demonstrate that you can work well in a team environment while also generating positive outcomes for your team.
7. Give an example of an important Team project goal you reached and how you achieved it.
Answer Tip: Make a list of these examples ahead of your interview so that you’re comfortable with these ideas. Focus on the times when you were able to deliver a business result, rather than just hanging out at the pub the following weekend.
8. Describe a situation in which you experienced difficulty getting others to accept your ideas.
What was your approach? How did this work? Were you able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way?
Answer Tip: Explain how you worked through the issue—show off your communication skills; it’s ok if you didn’t communicate on top of the disagreement; your interviewer is looking for your ability to handle conflict.
Choose a time when you disagreed about a work-related issue, not a personal one, and explain how you tackled the case. Focus on your communication and negotiation skills. Try not to let your ego get in the way.
9. Tell me about a situation when you were responsible for project planning.
Did everything go according to your plan? If not, then why, and what kind of actions or counteractions did you have to take?
Answer Tip: Describe your initial uncertainty and how you were able to overcome it. What did you do to step up as a responsible person or leader in the situation? Did you speak up? Did you facilitate? Did you Delegate?
10. Tell me about a situation when you made a mistake at work.
What happened exactly and how did you deal with it? What steps did you take to improve the situation?
Answer Tip: Choose a mistake from when you first started working on a job and describe your progression until you improved the whole situation.
11. Tell me about a time when you worked with someone who was not completing his or her share of the work.
How did you handle the situation? Did you discuss your concern with your coworker? If yes, how did your coworker respond to your concern?
Answer Tip: Pick a time when you had to deliver uncomfortable counsel to a team member. Here, you need relevant examples of when you stood out for the right reasons as a leader.
You need to demonstrate that you know when to lead and when to follow, and how to pick the right reasons to strive for.
Talk about a time when you’ve communicated a vision, led a team, fought for the right reasons, done something in service of others, or motivated and developed others.
12. Describe a situation when you worked effectively under pressure.
How did you feel when working under pressure? What was going on, and how did you get through it?
Answer Tip: Make a list three times and choose the best one. The more important thing is to talk about your mindset when you’re under pressure. Are you mindful of the pressure you’re facing? Or do you just crumble under pressure?
13. Tell me about yourself.
Answer Tip: At the beginning of the conversation, your interviewer will likely start out by asking you about yourself. They are seeking to understand your qualifications, what led you to the job, and generally why you think you'd be a good fit. The key here is to keep your response brief and direct and to only include professional information pertinent to the job position. Your answer should be structured as follows:
Start by describing your background with a summary of your most impressive responsibilities.
Next, briefly summarize your previous experience with key achievements.
Lastly, express how you found the new job and why it's a good fit for you and your goals.
14. Tell me about your work experience.
Answer Tip: An interviewer may or may not already be familiar with your background. However, this question gives you the chance to elaborate on your experiences that are most relevant to the potential position. Employers want to know that you have taken into account what they are looking for in a candidate and that you have directly applicable or transferable skills.
Consider these tips for answering:
- Quantify your experience.
- Illustrate connections to the role.
- End with a goal statement.
15. What do you know about our company?
Answer Tip: Research the role and company ahead of time to understand how it relates to your background. Ask yourself questions, such as, “How will this position help me advance in my career?” or “How does the position align with my future goals?” and “What makes me a good fit for this company or role?”
16. Why do you want to work for us?
Answer Tip: Interviewers often ask this question to determine whether or not you took the time to research the company and think critically about whether you'd be a good fit.
The best way to prepare for this question is to do your homework and learn about the products, services, mission, history, and culture of this workplace. Mention the elements of the business that appeal to you and fit with your values and professional aspirations in your response.
17. Why are you interested in this opportunity?
Answer Tip: Interviewers typically ask this question to give you an additional chance to explain why you're the best candidate, despite the fact that it might appear to be an intimidation tactic. Your answer should address the skills and experience you offer, why you’re a good "Cultural Add" and what you believe you’d bring to the role.
18. Tell me about your dream job.
What do you really want to do with your career?
Answer Tip: Employers typically ask this question because they want to ensure that your interests and passions align with theirs. A good answer will describe a role that matches the one you’re interviewing for.
Consider using this formula for your response:
- Mention the skills you want to use.
- Describe a job in general.
- Discuss your values.
- Tailor to the job for which you are interviewing.
19. Tell me a time when you failed.
Answer Tip: Everybody fails sometimes, and it shows humility to admit it. Always highlight the takeaway and what you learned from the experience.
20. How do you approach problems?
What’s your process?
Answer Tip: Focus on the approach you use to solve problems. How do you break them down into steps in order to solve them? What tools and techniques do you use to work through a problem?
21. What is your salary range expectation?
Answer Tip: Interviewers ask this question to make sure your expectations are in line with the amount they’ve budgeted for the role. If you give a salary range that is exceedingly lower or higher than the market value of the position, it gives the impression that you don’t know your worth.
Here are two ways to approach this response:
- Provide a salary range Find out the typical salary range for the position on Indeed Salaries, and set your lowest acceptable wage at the low end of that range. For example, if you require at least $45,000 annually, you might offer the interviewer a range of $45,000 to $55,000 per year. Let the hiring manager know if you’re flexible.
- Save the question for later You might want to save the question for later in the conversation if you're still learning the specifics of the job responsibilities and expectations during the hiring process.
Example answer: “Before I answer, I’d like to ask a few more questions to get a better idea of what the position entails." That way, I can provide a more accurate expectation.”
22. Are you willing to relocate?
Answer Tip: Being willing to relocate is one of the fastest ways to step in.
Example answer: “I love the area I live in currently, but I would consider relocating for the right opportunity.”
23. Do you have any questions?
Answer Tip: This might be one of the most important questions asked during the interview process because it allows you to explore any topics that haven’t been addressed and shows the interviewer you’re serious about the role.
Remember that you are interviewing the company too. Take time to ask the interviewer questions about their own experiences with the company, gain tips on how you can succeed if hired, and address any lingering questions you have.
Some examples include:
What do you love most about working for this company?
What would success look like in this role?
What are some of the challenges people typically face in this position?
How important is it that you hire someone with XYZ qualities?
Do you have any hesitations about hiring me?
How to prepare for an interview
When preparing for an interview, be sure that you come prepared. Use specific examples and be concise with your answers. Use these questions and example answers to prepare for your interview by making them your own and tailoring them to fit your experience, the job you’re applying for, and the company you’re interviewing with.
It’s important to get comfortable with what you could be asked and understand what a good response might be. Much like preparing for a test or exam in school, the best way to succeed in your job interview is to study and practice.
Research the company and the job, and practice your talking points until you feel confident about your answers. The more you prepare, the more likely it is that you will stand out from the competition and make a positive impression.
Come equipped with examples of work from your previous job(s), as well as ideas for the new job.
Try and make the interview as conversational as possible by showing genuine interest in the job, company, and your interviewer.
Another great tip is to really understand the company and have some solutions in mind. Great tech startups are looking for solution-oriented employees who can help them increase revenues, decrease costs, and save time. If you can prove with your examples and insights that you can do that, you’ll be in high demand.
Always tell the truth!
- Practice for interviews is an essential component, and it's wise to start by answering some of the most common interview questions.
- Basic interview questions, behavioral questions, salary questions, and questions about you and your skills are some of the different types of questions you might be asked.
- Make sure to thoroughly research the business and the position, and get ready for an interview the same way you would for a test or exam.
Now that you have access to some of the most frequently asked behavioral interview questions, practice your responses and start perfecting your pitch right away.