This example can come both from education and work experiences. Pick an accomplishment that
displayed a skill and competency related to the interviewing position. Are you thinking about a sales
position? People skills and excellent communication abilities would be good, as would any major sale
you made in a job. Looking at accounting? Perhaps a project you’ve worked on – real or hypothetical –
that involved solving complex accounting questions would be relevant. Going into counseling? Perhaps
your time as a Resident Assistant when you mediated what could have been a major conflict which
instead ended with an amicable resolution would be a good thing to mention. Just make sure you set up
the situation, discuss the skill used to resolve it and the result.
In the end, most behavioral interview questions end up looking something like this. You have all the
hallmarks in the request for a specific example of a problem, action and solution. At the risk of sounding
like a broken record, pick an example relevant to the position, identify the problem, present your
approach and then describe the successful outcome. If you know the new job will involve heavy
teamwork, discuss a group project that wasn’t going well or a group task at work. If it is an individual
position, then talk about something where you had to complete a task that was difficult.
Examples could be research projects where people did not respond to surveys or requests for
information causing delays, group projects where some members were not completing their assigned
tasks affecting everyone, or a customer or client complaint about services or products that you
addressed and solved. Obviously, there can be many other examples, but these three are good general
situations with which you most likely have had experience with.
This is an example of a question that is looking for specific skills and abilities. The interviewer is trying to
discover your time management and multitasking skills. Make sure you really answer the question,
providing details. Even if you didn’t mention these skills as your primary strengths, talking about your
excellent communication abilities again probably isn’t going to be that helpful. Sometimes employers
will ask you about a situation involving a skill you haven’t mentioned to see if it is something you
possess. Answer with confidence and try to anticipate where the interviewer is going with a line of
Some of the most difficult questions to answer are ones involving conflict with management. The key is
to fairly describe the situation without being overly critical of your superiors. It is likely that you were in
the right during the conflict, but what an interviewer will see if you go off about the inadequacies of a
job or supervisor is someone playing the blame game and perhaps not owning up to his/her own part in
the conflict. Be honest, recognize the possible faults of both sides, and describe the compromise that
allowed the relationship to continue.
Avoid picking something as an example which permanently ended the relationship as there is no real
successful outcome there. Even when you feel you were not at fault, try to propose ways in which you
could have handled things differently to provide a better outcome. The best story is one you can follow
up with a brief second example where you actually put those new skills into practice.
You can expect to get some questions that will address your leadership style and experience. It is okay
to say that you typically take the role of the worker managing smaller tasks and not the overall lead.
Describe your leadership style here. Are you someone who likes to take charge and give orders or lead
by example and handle their own tasks with excellence? Both could be valuable depending on the
position. An entry level sales or customer service position does not necessarily require someone who
prefers to dole out tasks and manage groups. Be honest as you answer this and then describe why you
fell into the role that you did and how that was the best use of your skills.
In the end, for all these types of questions you want to concentrate on incidents where you had
favorable outcomes. Prepare a short but complete story with a beginning, middle and end that
demonstrates the behavior that is being evaluated. Attempt to be as specific as you can in responding
to a question and, as with any interview, remember to research the company prior to the interview and
have questions to ask as well. These steps are easy to explain but certainly more difficult to execute. If
you can carry them out while maintaining eye contact and poise, you will have a successful interview.