4 Stories to Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions

Oct 19, 2023

Have you ever described a previous workplace scenario during an interview? You were likely asked a behavioral interview question. Recalling these instances on the spot is not ideal and can add unnecessary stress to the interview process. Luckily, you can prepare stories beforehand that can answer most behavioral interview questions.

 

What is a behavioral interview question?

Hiring managers ask behavioral interview questions to understand how candidates approach common workplace situations. These questions prompt an example and often begin with the words, “Tell me about a time when you…”

Behavioral interview questions focus more on soft skills rather than technical experience. They serve as a window into your work style and personality to determine if you are the right addition to the team. Past behavior is a fair indicator of how someone will deal with similar situations in the future.

With the right preparation, behavioral interview questions don’t have to be daunting! Having a few scenarios that you are comfortable talking about will set you up for success.

 

Story 1: A time when you handled a conflict

Every workplace is home to a diverse set of employees with differing perspectives. Sometimes, this can lead to disagreements that you’ve had to resolve. Hiring managers want to see how you used your interpersonal skills to solve a problem.

Identify an instance where you had a conflict with a coworker or client. Think about how you approached the problem and how your actions fostered an effective result. Rather than focusing on the negatives, consider what you learned from the experience. Objectively describe the situation—don’t let personal emotions get in the way of telling your story!

Behavioral interview questions this story can answer:

  • Describe a time when you disagreed with a coworker. How did you express your disagreement and resolve the issue?
  • Have you ever had to deal with an angry customer? How did you handle the situation?
  • Tell me about a time when you faced a challenge at work. How did you overcome the issue?

 

Story 2: A time when you felt proud

A successful project or a personal success can make for a great story to tell at an interview. It can show the passion and drive you carry when completing rewarding tasks.

Choose a project or success that is relevant to the position you are interviewing for. Be specific about your responsibilities and the outcome of your work. Let your enthusiasm shine through and explain why it’s an achievement you’re proud of.

Behavioral interview questions this story can answer:

  • Tell me about a project that you are most proud of. What was your role and what were the results?
  • Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond to deliver a successful project.

 

Story 3: A time when you failed or made a mistake

Yes, interviewers want to know about your not-so-proud moments, too! Mistakes may not feel gratifying in the moment, but when they happen (because they will), use them as an opportunity to learn and grow. Remember that failure is not the opposite of success!

Once you’ve found your story, it’s important not to sugarcoat the scenario. Be upfront about where the project went wrong and why. Honesty is always the best policy here, but discuss the story with grace. End with a takeaway from the experience to show you’re committed to improvement.

Behavioral interview questions this story can answer:

  • Tell me about a time when you made a mistake at work. How did you prevent it from happening again?
  • Describe a time when you failed to meet a deadline. How did you handle the situation?
  • Can you share an example of a time when you made a decision that didn’t turn out as expected?

 

Story 4: A time when you collaborated with others

Being a team player is often a non-negotiable for recruiters. They are seeking how you would interact with colleagues to achieve business objectives.

Think about a time you contributed to a team’s success. You can even refer to the project you were proud of if you were a part of a team! Consider quantifying the results of the teamwork with numbers if applicable.

BONUS: If you’ve previously led a team, highlight your leadership and project management experience!

Behavioral interview questions this story can answer:

  • Tell me about a project where you had to work closely with a team. What was your role, and how did you contribute to the team’s success?
  • Describe a time when you had to take the lead in a team project. How did you motivate and guide your team to achieve the project’s goals?

 

Some final notes:

No matter what behavioral interview question you’re asked, remember to own it (yes, even your mistakes!) Don’t forget that an interview is a professional meeting. Avoid oversharing and keep your answers concise.

It’s good to have these stories in your back pocket, however, make sure you aren’t treating them like a script. Be genuine and steer clear of sounding too memorized. Don’t be afraid to take a few seconds to collect your thoughts before answering the interview question. It’s your time to impress—be confident and nail that interview!

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