Skip to main content

Behavioral & Situational Interview Questions

Introduction to Behavioral Questions

You may have heard the term “behavioral question” or “behavioral interview” before. That’s because behavioral interviewing is one of the most popular methods of interviewing used by interviewers in every industry around the globe.

Behavioral interviewing is the practice of focusing on a candidate’s past experiences to gain an understanding of whether or not they will do well in the position they are applying for. When asked behavioral questions, candidates are expected to give the interviewer specific examples of how they handled certain situations in the past.

Did You Know?

According to the Society for Human Resource, behavioral interviewing is the most effective interview technique in nearly every organization.

How to Prepare for Behavioral Questions

Behavioral interviewing is a technique used during structured interviews. Structured interviews use a standard pre-planned rubric connected to key indicators that have already been proven to predict success.

Don’t worry if this sounds a little complicated! What it essentially boils down to is that behavioral questions use a formula to identify successful candidates, and we’re here to help you crack that formula. Here are simple steps you can take to ace these questions:

Step 1: Understand the S.T.A.R. method

Known as the gold standard for answering behavioral questions, the S.T.A.R. method is a great tool to have in your toolkit when going into an interview. In the next section, we’ll go into exactly what the S.T.A.R. method is and how you can use it to impress any interviewer!

Step 2: Develop your stories

In order to develop your S.T.A.R. stories, you should identify the qualities that are valued by the company you are interviewing with and determine which of your past experiences showcase those qualities. . Once you have come up with a few scenarios, you can put them in the four sections of the S.T.A.R. method. Use the accompanying S.T.A.R. worksheet to help you organize the information.

Step 3: Connect your stories to commonly asked questions

While it's impossible to prepare for every question your interviewer might ask, structured interviews follow a formula, so most interviewers will ask the same kind of questions, no matter what industry or position you're applying for. You can take advantage of this by connecting your stories to commonly asked questions.

What is the S.T.A.R. Method?

The S.T.A.R. method is a methodical way of answering behavioral questions.

The S.T.A.R. method follows the simple formula outlined below:


The situation is a specific event or circumstance you were in.  When describing the situation, don't be vague. Make sure to give the most focused account possible to the interviewer.


The task is the goal you were working toward in the above situation. The task must be specific and quantifiable.


The action describes the specific acts you took to accomplish your task. Make sure to focus on things YOU did — don’t spend too much time talking about what your team or group did as the interviewer will be more interested in YOUR contribution.


The result is the outcome of your action. Make sure to detail how the event ended, what you learned, and your role in bringing about that outcome.

Take a look at the shortened example below to get an idea of what your scenarios should look like:


“Advertising revenue was falling last quarter in my previous role at Digital Marketing Weekly, and we were losing viewers.”


“My goal was to generate content that would result in a 10% increase in viewership and lead generation.”


“I commissioned a report that focused on helping our target audience drive sales for the upcoming holiday and used it to capture qualified leads.”


“The report resulted in over 60 new leads as well as a 17% increase in viewership for the following quarter.”

The purpose of the S.T.A.R. method is to ensure you discuss the important aspects of a past event in order to provide your interviewer with a concise-but-detailed account.

When using the S.T.A.R. method, it’s important to be as specific as possible. You don’t want to give a generalized account of a dozen events; instead, you want to give a detailed account of 3-4 events that really highlight your skills.

Whatever the experience you decide to utilize, focus on times that you overcame the odds or learned a valuable lesson.

The premium version of the training program will provide you examples so you can get an idea of what your STAR scenarios should look like.

Introduction to Situational Questions

Situational interviewing is another interviewing technique that is closely related to behavioral interviewing. Situational questions focus on hypothetical future scenarios, while behavioral questions focus on past scenarios that actually happened.

In other words, situational questions are specifically designed to test how you would handle situations if you were to get the job. They can be more challenging to answer than behavioral questions and can require additional preparation, depending on the job you are applying for.

Why Do Interviewers Ask Situational Questions?

Situational questions are an effective way for interviewers to gauge how you will perform in a specific job. Whereas behavioral questions focus on how you performed in your past workplaces, situational questions give interviewers a first-hand look at how you may perform in this new role.

Interviewers also love to ask situational questions because they are difficult to prepare for.  While you can prepare for behavioral questions by studying the most commonly asked questions, it’s harder to prepare for situational questions because they tend to be tailored specifically for the job you are applying for. Hence, situational questions force candidates to think on their toes and are a good way for interviewers to evaluate how a candidate performs under pressure.

How to Prepare for Situational Questions

Answering situational questions is a little different from answering behavioral questions. While you can look back on past experiences to answer behavioral questions, answering situational questions can seem more difficult because they focus on scenarios that have not happened yet.

However, these questions are easier than they seem to be. The answers simply rely on your common sense. Answer the questions with a vision of the best professional version of yourself. How would that superstar react in the situation? What steps would they follow to ensure the problem was solved?

If you're presented with a situational question that you aren't prepared for, utilize these tips:

Be specific

Just as you want to be specific answering behavioral questions, you also want to be specific answering situational questions. Be sure to list the actions you would take in the hypothetical situation and why. When doing so, it’s important to relate your answer to the skills needed for the job you’re applying for.

Keep it simple

The interviewer's time is limited, so you want to make sure you get right to the point. Give enough detail to get your point across, but not so much that your answer takes more than a minute or two.


Make sure you listen to the question carefully so that you fully understand it. If you don’t understand it, there’s nothing wrong with asking questions to clarify!

Use past experiences

If you've been in a similar situation in the past, use that experience to inform your answer about what you would do. Make it known that although each situation is unique, you’ve encountered a similar task or problem in the past, and explain how you handled it.

Common Behavioral and Situational Questions

Here  are three sample categories of  common behavioral and situational questions. In the premium version of our training program we have an extensive list of questions that will help you be ready for any type of question:

Adherence to Policies and Procedures

  • Describe a time when you had to strictly enforce a company's policies.
  • Has there ever been a time when you were lax on enforcing company policies? What happened as a result?
  • Describe a time when you followed company policies and procedures even when you didn't necessarily agree with them.
  • What would you do if you had a co-worker who continually disregarded company policies and procedures?

Attention to Detail / Detail-Oriented

  • What part of your profession requires the most attention to detail? Describe a situation where you had to regard all details to ensure your work was error-free. What was the outcome?
  • Describe a time you made an error. Why did you miss the mistake? How did you handle it?
  • If you had the option, would you rather handle the details yourself or delegate them to others?
  • Which do you observe first when starting a project: the "big picture" or the "fine print"?


  • Would your co-workers describe you as a macro-manager or a micro-manager? Give an example of your delegation style.
  • Have you ever experienced a mishap when delegating tasks? What happened?
  • If things were hectic, would you be open to delegating tasks?
  • In what situations would you think it appropriate to delegate tasks? Imagine you are leading a project. How do you decide which tasks are appropriate to delegate?

Handling Failure

  • What has been the most disappointing moment of your career?
  • Describe a time when you tried your hardest but still failed to meet your goals.
  • Give an example of a mistake you've made while on the job.
  • What would you do if you realized you were going to fail to meet a deadline?


  • Have you ever gotten overwhelmed when tasks started to pile up on you?
  • In the past, how have you effectively prioritized things to ensure you met deadlines?
  • How would you prioritize tasks if things started to get backed up?
  • If your superior assigned you several different tasks at once, how would you handle the situation?

Presentation Skills

  • What is the most difficult presentation you've ever had to give?
  • If you had an upcoming presentation for a group of your peers, how would you prepare?
  • How would you engage your audience when making a presentation?
  • If you had your choice of creating a presentation on any topic, what would it be about and why?

Stressful Situations and Conflict Resolution

  • How do you handle stress in the workplace?
  • Describe a time you were under great stress due to a strict deadline and how you were able to handle it.
  • How would you convince two angry coworkers to work together?
  • How would you approach a superior who placed unreasonable demands on you?

Team Building

  • Have you ever been in charge of a team where the members did not get along? How did you handle the tension?
  • Have you ever attempted to build morale within your team but failed? How did you handle it?
  • If you had a team that was divided, what would you do to motivate them to work together?
  • What would you do to encourage unity of a team that was made up of individuals who had never worked together before?

Written Communication Skills

  • Describe the level of your written communication skills.
  • Tell me about some of the most difficult emails or written correspondences you have ever had to write.
  • If given a large amount of information to read over, would you describe yourself as a meticulous reader or a scanner?
  • Do you think you would be able to handle a position where you were required to do a large amount of writing?

How to Answer Other Common Interview Questions

Now that we know how to answer behavioral and situational questions, let’s take a look at some other common questions that may come up in an interview.

Can you tell me about yourself?

When it comes to this question, candidates often fail to take into account the context of why it's being asked. When people ask you this question in your everyday life, they want to hear about your interests, hobbies, and similar things about your life.

However, when a potential employer asks this question, they're asking you to tell them about yourself as a professional.

Let’s take a look at what an appropriate answer to “tell me about yourself” might look like:

“I’m a digital marketer with over 6 years of experience in the health and wellness sector. My specialty is curating content for start-up companies and handling their creative market strategy, something that has always been a passion of mine. I started my career as an advisor to several local businesses but have since moved on to working with nationwide corporations.

I’ve been with my latest company, Content Unlimited, for the last 3 years and have won several performance awards in my department. I manage a team of marketers, so I set and oversee goals related to generating sales revenue online. Just this year, I implemented an in-house content-sharing system that boosted productivity for the quarter by 15%, and productivity has seen an upward trend since. ”

This answer gives a concise view of the candidate’s background while showcasing their passion and the quality of their work within the industry. Remember, when talking about yourself, keep it short and sweet!

Can you walk me through your resume?

"Can you walk me through your resume" is a common question that trips up a surprising amount of candidates. Where most candidates go wrong is taking this question literally and proceeding to spend the next 10 minutes reading their resume. Unfortunately, that's not what they're looking for.

When interviewers ask you this question, they want you to give them a brief summary that touches on all of the important parts of your career. That way, they can ask you to expand on any parts that interest them.

Let’s take a look at a sample answer to this question:

“I graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in economics and knew that I wanted to break into the business sector. My first job was with Talent Acquisitions as an actuary where I worked with other senior financial advisors to calculate the risk associated with future events for five years. I ended up getting a promotion as well as a performance award in my department. I used that as leverage to move my way up to a senior level position, and I’ve been working in that position ever since.”

Why do you want to work here?

This question gives the interviewer insight into:

Whether or not a candidate will be a good fit within the company.

If the candidate will be motivated to perform well.

Whether a candidate took the time to research the company before coming into the interview.

Now that we know why this question is so important, let’s take a look at a sample answer:

“I read an article by the CEO, Travis Fontain, on Entrepreneur Weekly and was really impressed by his vision of how businesses will operate in the future. I consider myself an innovative businessman as well, and I would love to work with a company that has such a futuristic outlook on the industry.”

This answer is great because it shows the candidate:

  • Did their research before the interview. 
  • Personally identifies with the culture of the company.

  • Is looking at the job as a long-term position.

Utilize all of the company research you conducted in the Research Worksheet to formulate your own response.

What's Next?

This is just a preview of the actual Behavioral & Situational Questions Guide. We've outlined some necessary information here but go into much more detail in the real thing. Here is the information we cover in more detail:

  • Understanding why interviewers ask behavioral questions and why they are important.
  • Identifying the difference between behavioral and situational questions and how to answer both.
  • Using the S.T.A.R. technique and understanding why it is such a valuable tool for job seekers
  • Identifying common interview questions and the best ways to answer them.
  • Using our Interview Simulator to practice answering behavioral and situational questions!

Getting access to the tools and information you need to interview successfully and get the job you want is as easy as becoming a member of