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    Top 10 Behavioral Interview Questions to Ask Candidates (2020)

    Having assisted over 5000 hiring managers (including recruiters from McDonald’s and Uber) modernize their company's hiring process, we've curated a list of the 10 most popular behavioral questions asked during interviews. 

    Behavioral questions are one of the most effective methods of assessing a candidate’s fit with your team's culture. Your goal is to uncover how they handled past work situations - this serves as a good litmus test of their potential at the role you’re interviewing them for. 

    Still unsure of how to conduct behavioral interviews? Check out our ultimate guide to interviewing candidates here.

    ultimate guide to hiring ebook

    How to Assess Answers to Behavioral Questions?

    This has been an age-old question for many interviewers, especially less-experienced hiring managers. After all, candidates have such varied experiences and answers - how does one objectively assess their answers and compare them across different candidates? 

    Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive answer. Many interviewers we’ve worked with still base their selection process by ‘gut feeling’ and intuition. And that’s perfectly fine. There are nuances and idiosyncrasies that cannot easily be quantified by a metric. That’s where the art of interviewing and being perceptive often comes in.

    Nonetheless, there are many interviewers who opt to use a metric scale. The most popular of which is the Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS). BARS compares an individual’s performance levels to specific examples of behavior that are anchored to numerical ratings.

    A simple range of performance levels could be: Unacceptable, Acceptable, and Exceptional OR Below Expectations, Meets Expectations, Exceeds Expectations. Based on a scale of 1-7, you can then assign a score depending on their answer. Let’s see this in action:

    Top 10 Behavioral Interview Questions 

    We’ve added our proposed metrics to assess answers to each question - feel free to augment them based on the answers you’re looking for. As a general rule of thumb, the highest points are often awarded if the candidate gives a satisfactory response based on the STAR method of answering these interview questions. 

    Question 1: Describe a time when you were a team player on a project or initiative. What was your role, and how did you contribute to the team in that role?

    Competency: Teamwork and Communication

    Behavioral Question BARS Metric Scale for Teamwork and Communication

    Question 2: Describe a time when you handled a difficult situation.

    Competency: Problem Solving

    Behavioral Question BARS Metric Scale for Problem Solving

    Question 3: Describe a time when you made a mistake, and what you did to correct it.

    Competency: Problem Solving, Accountability

    Behavioral Question BARS Metric Scale for Problem Solving and Accountability

    Question 4: Can you tell me about a time you had to deal with an irate customer or client?

    Competency: Interpersonal Awareness, Customer Orientation

    Behavioral Question BARS Metric Scale for Interpersonal Awareness and Customer Orientation

    Question 5: Describe a time when you were in conflict with a co-worker and how you resolved the situation?

    Competency: Communication, Conflict Resolution

    Behavioral Question BARS Metric Scale for Communication and Conflict Resolution

    Question 6: Have you ever disagreed with a manager or superior? How did you resolve it?

    Competency: Interpersonal awareness, Problem-Solving, Flexibility

    Behavioral Question BARS Metric Scale for Interpersonal Awareness, Problem-Solving and Flexibility

    Question 7: Describe a time when you set a goal. How did you achieve it?

    Competency: Establishing focus, Determination

    Behavioral Question BARS Metric Scale for Establishing Focus and Determination

    Question 8: Describe a time when you did not have sufficient time to complete your work. What did you do?

    Competency: Decisiveness, Analytical Thinking

    Behavioral Question BARS Metric Scale for Decisiveness and Analytical Thinking

    Question 9: Describe a time when your team was undergoing change. How did that impact you, and how did you adapt?

    Competency: Managing Change

    Behavioral Question BARS Metric Scale for Managing Change

    Question 10: Tell me about a time you were dissatisfied with your work. What could have been done to make it better?

    Competency: Critical self-reflection 

    Behavioral Question BARS Metric Scale for Critical self-reflection

    While behavioral questions aren’t the only measure of a candidate’s competence, they are undoubtedly one of the most effective ways of assessment during the interviewing process. 

    Looking for more innovative ways of screening your candidates or to modern your hiring process? Book a free consultation with our hiring specialists today, and get more insights into industry-leading hiring practices. 

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    Brandon Wee

    Brandon is the SEO and Content Editor at Workstream. He suffers from massive GAS (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome), and has peddled over 150 guitars in his lifetime. He daydreams about becoming a philosopher someday.

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