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Job Interview: Behavior Questions

This lesson is a part of an audio course Complete Job Interview Preparation by Felix Peeters

A quick recap on behavior questions before we jump into the list of questions: this is what we already know about behavior questions:

  1. These are questions about either your past behavior or your hypothetical behavior in the future to get an idea of how you would behave in a real situation when you are hired.

  2. You recognize these questions quite easily because they always sound something like this: can you tell us about a time when/ or- can you tell us about a situation where you had to do X or Y. It can also sound like this: Imagine this situation, what would you do?

  3. The third thing we've already established when it comes to behavior questions is that you should always answer them using the STAR-method, where you describe the situation, tasks, actions, and results, to build a nice and comprehensive story for the hiring manager or the recruiter.

Ok, so now that we've recapped this, I'd like us to consider 7 behavior questions. Because these answers are personal, we'll do only one example. The other 6 questions I will mention, so you have them, and you don't forget to prepare for them. Just to get that straight: yes, I do want you to sit down and prepare an answer to all 7 behavior questions we will mention in this chapter, because these are the most common behavior questions out there, and as I said before, there are only 20 questions in total to prepare for the entire interview, these 7 behavior questions make up a large part of your entire prep.

Question 1: Let's talk about your last position – how did you secure this role. The question could also be: let's talk about your last degree: how did you get into the program, and how did you succeed?

This question is tricky because it's basically a question about your resume. That's why often, you don't recognize this as a behavior question, whereas the STAR-method is very much in order here. Let's do this together, and let's take the example of the graduate, meaning the question is not about your previous job but about your degree: let's talk about your last degree: how did you get into the program and how did you succeed?

I'll break it up into situation, task, actions, and results, but by all means, when you deliver an answer during your interview, don't mention the sections explicitly, as that would sound a bit strange.

Situation: Ever since I can remember, I've been quite passionate about communication and media. After university, where I studied communication, I realized I wanted to work in the media industry but in a management role rather than on the production side.

Task: That's when I decided to pursue a management degree. The goal was to enter a prominent business school in order to increase my chances of landing a rewarding job later on.

Actions: For me to apply for the top-tier business schools in Europe, I had to pass an advanced English test, perform well on the GMAT test and get actual work experience in the form of internships to stand out.

Results: it was a challenging endeavor, but in the end, I was able to choose my preferred business school, and I'm glad I went through the process. I've learned a great deal when it comes to business and management, and I feel ready to apply this knowledge and experience in a professional setting.

You'll notice that this question is about many things, like, for example: does this candidate have a clear plan, clear professional goals, and is the story of this candidate consistent.

As I said, there are 6 other behavior questions. I'll list them for you and give some pointers as to how to approach them. For your preparation, make sure to have a story for each of them!

Question 2: Imagine you are asked to perform an analysis [competitor, internal cost analysis, industry trends], how would you do that?

It's a hypothetical behavior question that will be very relevant to the role you're applying for. You could argue: is this not a skill-based question? Well, actually it is, but it's posed in a behavior question structure, so use the STAR-method.

Question 3: Imagine you have a colleague, and you discover they are stealing from the company. What do you do?

Another future hypothetical one, this time about responsibility, loyalty, and doing the right thing. Pro tip: your loyalty is to the company, so you have to report it. Bonus points if you mention that you will make sure this happens in a civil way without sensation, escalations, or reputation loss for the company. HR is responsible for solving this, not you. So you'll trust HR to do the right thing.

Question 4: How would you organize an event for 100 people for our company?

Here, make sure you include in the Task-section the goal to measure results. People often forget to talk about tracking results when we talk about events, so this is an opportunity to stand out: speak about the uplift in brand love, uplift in client spend, or any other measure you deem relevant for events.

Questions 5 and 6: similar but different: Can you tell us about a time you have shown real leadership? Versus Can you tell us about a time you had to make a difficult decision? At this point, I can mention that sometimes it won't be very clear whether they are asking about a professional/academic context or a private context. Please default to examples in a professional content, but when in doubt… ask the question before you give an answer! You ask: "I'm assuming you mean an example in a professional context?"

Question7: What's the most important project you've ever worked on? It's up to you, really, as long as you use the STAR method, and here, the pro-tip would be: emphasize impact. Mention why this is the most important project you've ever worked on, and usually, that's about impact. A good alternative would be: a project that went terribly wrong and you learned a lot. A good way to present yourself as humble, agile, and full of self-knowledge.

Ok, those were the 7 behavior questions I hope you'll prepare for. And that leaves us with 1 last category: the cognitive reasoning questions. And for that, let's go to lesson 8.

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Written by

Felix Peeters