Skills can be learned, but behavioral characteristics tend to stay the same. While you know the qualifications you’re looking for in a specific role, finding the person with the right intangibles can be a challenge. That’s where behavioral interview questions can be really helpful. Whether it’s attention to detail, goal setting or ability to work in a team that you’re trying to assess, these are the questions that will help uncover it (and more).
Regardless of whether or not an employee is client-facing, these are crucial for workplace success. Basic communication skills will be clear fairly quickly, but these behavioral interview questions may help you dig a bit deeper.
- Tell me about a time you had a rely on written communication to express an idea at work. A person’s written communication ability can be extremely important, especially if you rely heavily on email communication or programs like slack.
- How do you prefer to build rapport with others? is this person a written or verbal communicator?
- Is it more important to be a good listener or communicator? This is a bit of a trickier one. Don’t rely as much on what their answer is, rather, why they chose it. If they can verbalize legitimate and selfless reasons for either, that’s what to look for.
- What was the biggest conflict you’ve had to overcome at work? How did you resolve it? This question helps uncover both conflict resolution ability and communication skills in one go.
Many candidates expect to answer questions about teamwork as it’s become something of an interview staple. That doesn’t mean your questions can’t still be insightful. Asking about teamwork from a behavioral standpoint sheds a personal light on their answers, and they’re a bit trickier to have canned.
- Describe a time you were asked to work with someone whose personality was very different than yours. This question gets to the heart of someone’s teamwork skills. One of the most challenging parts of teamwork is clashing personalities. One’s willingness to compromise and adapt to other people's’ quirks is crucial for teamwork.
- What does “working as a team” mean to you? This can be a telling question. Does this person view “teamwork” as them being the leader or collaborator? Is it something they look at negatively or positively?
- Can you describe a situation where your work was improved through a teamwork situation? Is this person able to see how other opinions and input can be of benefit?
- Tell me about a time you knew you were right but still had to follow the guidelines in place. Did they feel the need to insert that they were right? Or did they offer constructive criticism as to how to improve upon processes in the future?
Adaptability is a really important quality in an employee. Even in the most steadfast of organizations, unexpected change can occur. Whether you’re a start-up or the latter example, this is an important quality to uncover someone’s long-term potential.
- How well do you handle change? This may seem like an obvious question, but it will be immediately clear whether or not change is challenging for them.
- How do you adjust to changes you have no control over? A person on the team quits or a project they’ve been working on is canceled. Is this something they are able to take in stride?
- What are some of the biggest challenges you find when starting a new job? A new work environment always takes adapting to, but ability and speed with which people to do so vary greatly. Use this as an indicator of how they’re likely to adapt in general.
- Tell me about a time a new tool or technology was introduced at work. How long did it take you to get up to speed with it? Whether or not this person’s role would be technical, this helps determine their ability to embrace new processes.
Setting goals, both personally and professionally, is an important practice for any strong employee. If someone is complacent with the status quo, their work will be reflective of that.
- Tell me about your recent goals and how you plan to achieve them? A person who’s goal-oriented will always be chasing a new one. The answer here isn’t as important as the fact that they currently are working towards a specific goal - the answer may be to work at your company!
- Explain how you set your goals. Is there a structure to their goal-setting? How do they define and establish them?
- Discuss both short and long-term goals that you have. A variety of goals is always a plus. Most goal-oriented candidates will have both short and long-term ones.
- Describe a time you had to deliver specific results and how you did so. This can be a great way to show how a candidate plans and executes goals that are set for them.
Attention to Detail
Everyone makes mistakes, the ability to mitigate them is what's key. Some great behavioral interview questions to determine someone's attention to detail:
- Describe a time you found a mistake that wasn’t immediately obvious. Did they check a little more closely than others when proofing a document or project?
- What process do you use to make sure you took all the right steps in a project/with a client/etc? Having specific checks in a process are a strong indicator of someone with great attention to detail.
- Are you a detail-oriented person? Sounds basic, but someone that is detail oriented will easily supply specific examples for you.
- How do you manage your daily work schedule? Another simple but telling example. People with a strong attention to detail will have at least some plan of attack for the day/week.