Once a hiring manager or recruiter has screened resumes and applicants and identified quality candidates, it’s time to get to know them better though a behavioral interview process. Whether the candidates come into the interviewer’s location or interview through recorded video or video conference, the quality of the questions asked will determine the quality of the information the recruiter gets. Typical interviews include questions about the candidate’s work history, training and education, and career interests and aspirations. Let’s take a look at how behavioral interviews, also called S.T.A.R. interviews, work, and how asking top behavioral interview questions can yield a better crop of candidates.

The S.T.A.R. interview format involves asking candidates about work-related Situations and the Tasks, Actions, and Results achieved. An interviewer might ask a candidate to talk about a situation at work and the tasks involved, the actions taken to achieve the tasks, and the results or outcomes. Top behavioral interview questions reveal candidate skill levels, work ethic, competence, attitudes, and work style.

Tell Me About How You Worked Effectively Under Pressure

One of the top behavioral interview questions is “Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.” It’s designed to reveal what kind of challenging work situations the candidate has been in and how the candidate defines work pressure. Companion questions to this include questions about how the candidate felt when working under pressure, asking for examples of situations in which the candidate had problems working under pressure, and how and when the candidate decided to ask for assistance when under pressure.

Have You Ever Made a Mistake at Work? What Happened and What Did You Do About it?

Another one of the top behavioral interview questions is “Have you ever made a mistake at work? What happened, and what did you do about it?” Everyone makes mistakes, but what’s important is how they handle them. This question gives the candidate the opportunity to be honest and explain what was learned by making a mistake. It reveals a candidate’s ability to admit fault, take responsibility, and be humble when faced with the consequences of an error.

Give an Example of a Goal You Reached and How You Achieved It

The ability to set and meet goals and understand expectations is very important in any candidate. Top behavioral interview questions include “Give an example of a goal you reached at work and how you achieved it.” Understanding expectations and goals and working within timeframes and deadlines are important in project work and teamwork, as well as in departments and small workgroups. Companion questions to this one include asking for situations in which the candidate worked on and achieved multiple goals; situations in which the candidate was not able to achieve a work goal that was set by a manager; or situations in which the candidate had to depend on others to help achieve a goal.

More Top Behavioral Interview Questions

Top behavioral interview questions reveal more in-depth information about how a candidate thinks and feels and what type of experience the candidate has from previous jobs. “Tell me about yourself” is a common interview question, but is very general and almost vague. “Tell me about a time when your work was so enjoyable it didn’t feel like work” or “Tell me what kind of person you are and what your work style is” are both questions that let the interviewer know more intellectual, emotional, and personal information about the candidate regarding work and work experience.

Try these top behavioral interview questions:

  • Tell me about a decision you made at work that wasn’t popular and how you handled it.
  • Describe a team you worked on and your role.
  • Has there been a time at work when you disagreed with someone? What did you do about it?
  • Tell me about a time you motivated employees or co-workers.
  • Have you ever gone above and beyond your work expectations, and if so, why and how?
  • What was the most uncomfortable, embarrassing, or difficult thing you’ve had to do at work?

The best interview questions relate to the work the candidate would be doing in the position, and can be tailored for the opening. For example, if you’re interviewing software programmers, ask questions about when they made a coding mistake and how they handled it and if they missed a programming project goal and what they did about it. Use top behavioral interview questions to elicit real information about how candidate’s work, how they feel about work, and what their work styles are to get the best match for your openings.

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