How To Answer Any Behavioral Interview Question In 2020

We've gotten a lot of questions lately around interviews, which is a good thing as it means our readers are putting in the work and getting interviews.

But what we want to talk about today is a very particular type of interview question that hiring managers are increasingly asking these days. This kind of question—a behavioral question—can really be a curveball.

So, let's get started by talking about what a behavioral question is.

What Is A Behavioral Interview Question?

Job seeker answering a behavioral interview question

It's a very special type of question. It's one that requires more than a one-word answer. It's the type of question where you are not going to respond with just a "yes" or "no." In contrast, you're going to have to get into a whole conversation in order to deliver an answer properly.

For example, a behavioral question would look something like, "Tell me about a time when you had to do X or Y…" You're going to see these questions all the time on interviews because it helps the hiring manager get inside your head and understand how you approach and tackle certain problems.

Remember, an employer wants to make sure that you're the right fit for the job. It's not just that you have the experience. It's also that you have the aptitude and the know-how to apply that experience, so that you can do the job successfully in the way that you need to do it. This is what makes them feel comfortable with you as a hire—and all of this has to come out in your answer.

Now that you understand what a behavioral interview question is, and why it's so important to answer it thoroughly and correctly, I'm going to give you a methodology you can use to answer each and every one effectively. It's called the Experience + Learn = Grow model.

It's a system we've designed that allows you to come up with answers that give the employer exactly what they need to hear.

How To Answer A Behavioral Interview Question

Professional woman answers a behavioral question during a job interview

Step 1: Outline an experience that you've had that explains why you can do what they're asking you to do.

Step 2: Talk about what you learned from that experience—how it made you smarter and better in your job.

Step 3: Talk about how you grew as a professional, so that you can take that experience and use it to your advantage going forward.

When you answer behavioral questions using the Experience + Learn = Grow model, you're mentally taking the hiring manager through the process they need to go through to come to the conclusion that you can do the job.

It's also important that you ask good questions in an interview, in order to make a great impression.

Example Of A Behavioral Interview Question & Answer

Job seeker successfully answers a behavioral interview question

So, here's an actual example of a typical behavioral question that you might get asked in your next interview:

"Tell me your greatest accomplishment on the job."

Now, again, if we are going to use the Experience + Learn = Grow model here, we have to share enough information for them to fully understand that we are capable of doing the job.

Let's say you're a customer service representative. Your answer might be:

Experience: "Well, as a customer service representative, the greatest accomplishment I ever had was learning how to deal with difficult customers. I remember a time when I got a call from a really angry customer. We had double-charged her, and she was irate. She was swearing at me and yelling at me on the phone. She was completely out of control, and I didn't know what to do."

Learn: "But I realized that if I stepped back for a second and didn't take what she was saying personally, I could recognize how she was feeling. I could put myself in her shoes. So, I was able to do that. And in doing so, I was able to calmly address her needs, figure out what was going on, get her a credit, and really exceed her expectations. When it was all said and done, she was totally calmed down. She was apologetic for her behavior—for swearing at me—and most importantly, she was grateful and even gave me a four-star review afterwards."

Grow: "That really taught me the power of patience and empathy. When I'm talking to customers now, every time I get a difficult customer, I'm able to immediately go into that empathy mode so that I can give them a great customer service experience."

Do you see how this person followed the Experience + Learn = Grow model? By taking the time to map out your answers to questions like this, you can really make sure that you're covering your bases, and helping the hiring manager understand just how effective you can be in the job.

There are lots of behavioral questions that you can get asked in an interview. In fact, at Work It Daily, we have a list of 18 potential questions that we take our clients through. To give you an idea of some other ones that you might come across, here are two more that you should be prepared to answer:

  1. "What would your co-workers say about you if we asked them?"
  2. "Tell me about a time when you got a difficult and unrealistic request from somebody, but they were really enthusiastic about it. What did you do?"

Those are just a couple more examples of the types of behavioral questions you can get asked, which again require much more than a typical one-word answer.

Most importantly, the Experience + Learn = Grow structure helps you consistently deliver the right answer at the right time!

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