How to Ace Top Behavioral Interview Questions

April 12, 2022
How to Ace Top Behavioral Interview Questions

If you’re in the market for a new job, you may find yourself preparing for behavioral interview questions. Including behavior-based questions is quickly becoming the standard in the interview process — and for good reason. By understanding how you handled situations in the past, hiring managers can get a better sense of how you may handle situations in the future. We’ll tell you what behavioral interview questions are, in addition to common behavioral questions and how to answer them.

What Do We Mean by “Behavioral Interview Questions?”

If you’ve been in an interview and heard the words, “Describe a time when,” or, “Give an example of,” then you’re likely familiar with the concept of behavioral interview questions. Unlike other interview questions that may be looking for answers that are more factual or informational, when interviewers ask behavior-based questions, they’re wanting to hear you tell a story of a previous experience. Sound intimidating? Well, it doesn’t have to be.

Key Behavioral Interview Questions to Prepare For

The hiring manager will likely tailor behavioral interview questions to the specific job you’re interviewing for. Read through the job description and think of potential behavioral questions and relevant examples from your previous experience.

Need some inspiration? We’ve scoured Glassdoor to find out what some of the top accounting firms are asking:

    • Ernst & Young (EY): Tell us about a time you stepped up as a leader.
    • Deloitte: Talk about a time when you felt the most collaborative.
    • PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC): Describe a time when you influenced someone senior to yourself. 
    • Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG): Give an example of a time when you failed and what you did to overcome that failure.

How to Answer Behavioral Questions

Regardless of what behavioral question is being asked, you can ensure a successful answer if you follow this formula: 

  1. Explain the situation.
  2. Detail how you handled it – be sure to alternate between “I” and “we” to balance how you come across as both a team player and a leader.
  3. Emphasize the results of your actions.

Remember to focus on the positive side of the story. While some of the questions may be on the topic of past failures, highlight the lessons you learned from those experiences. 

Troubleshooting: If you find yourself telling a story where you responded to a situation that didn’t quite work out, it’s okay. The best recovery is to tell the interviewer how you would handle that situation with the knowledge you have today. That shows growth.

Are you nearing the end of the interview stage? Read this article to learn how to manage multiple job offers like a pro.

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