University at Albany

Behavioral Questions

Behavioral questions assist the employer in making predictions about your future success based on your past behaviors.

In behavior-based questions, you are asked to give specific examples of when you demonstrated particular behaviors or skills. Describe in detail a particular event, project, or experience, how you dealt with the situation, and what the outcome was.

Below are some sample questions you might be asked, as well as advice for handling negative questions that focus on how you deal with failure and conflict.

Sample Questions

  • Describe a time when you were faced with problems or stresses at work that tested your coping skills. What did you do?
  • Give an example of a time when you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
  • Give me an example of an important goal you had to set and tell me about your progress in reaching that goal.
  • Describe the most creative work-related project you have completed.
  • Give me an example of a problem you faced on the job, and tell me how you solved it.
  • Tell me about a situation in the past year in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to show good leadership.

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Handling Negative Questions

Some behavioral questions may refer to times when you did not succeed. Employers use these questions to see how you deal with failure. Have a couple negative examples ready just in case. When you discuss times when you were not successful, stress what you learned from the experience rather than the failure itself.

Example: Tell me about a time when you were not as effective as you would have liked.

Answer: I had a team project last semester that did not go well. I did not communicate with my team members enough and was surprised when parts of the project didn't get done. We had all assumed someone else was doing it. We had to stay up late several nights to get everything done on time, and it was not our best work. I really learned the importance of planning a project and communicating to every member of the team rather than assuming everyone understood the plan.

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