Man and woman in business suits sitting at a table discussing what is on the man's laptopDuring an interview, it’s likely that you will be asked a few behavioral questions. When an employer asks these types of questions, they’re typically seeking concrete examples of how you responded to certain tasks, relationships or situations. They often start with “tell me about a time when…” or “describe a situation...” By asking these questions, the interviewers want to know how you have behaved in the past because it gives them an indication of how you will behave in similar situations in the future (perhaps working at their company). It is easy to get stumped when asked these questions, so preparing situations ahead of time can help you navigate these questions during the interview. Use the below method to help you prepare!

The STAR Technique

Organizations rely on behavioral interviewing to screen candidates. Even if you are not asked a behavioral question, it is still appropriate to use the STAR formula in response. People remember stories and examples more frequently than simple responses.

  • Situation: Set the stage. Provide an overview, being specific and succinct.
  • Task: Describe the goal you were working toward.
  • Action: Describe your actions, the steps you took.
  • Result: Describe the outcome, if possible. This is your time to take credit for your work.

STAR Interview Example

Question: Tell me about a time you had to manage multiple projects.

  • S: I ended up with three projects due on the same day.
  • T: I was assigned a research project and a presentation, as well as a deadline for my client in senior design.
  • A: I prioritized a list and consulted with my senior design team. I blocked off more time, set limits for each project, etc.
  • R: I ended up finishing the component for senior design ahead of schedule, which pleased both my team and our client. I was then able to turn my focus to the research project and presentation.

Examples of Behavioral Interview Questions

  • Tell me about a time you failed.
  • Describe a time when you experienced conflict on a team (or with a client/customer)
  • Tell me about this project on your resume.
  • Give me an example of when you had to go above and beyond to get the job done.
  • Describe a time when you experienced a challenging problem. What steps did you take to solve it?

Additional Resources

InterviewStream: A mock interview tool you can use at home. It allows you to record yourself while answering interview questions and watch it back to see how you did.

Meet with a career development advisor: Schedule a mock interview appointment to meet with a career development advisor to go through a mock interview.