How to succeed in your JOB INTERVIEW: Behavioral Questions



My name is Emma, and in today's video I am going to teach you how to do really well on

your interview.

So, if you're looking for a job and you have an interview coming up, I'm going to talk

to you about a type of question you might hear during your interview.

I'm going to tell you how to recognize this type of question, and how to answer this type

of question, along with many tips that can help you.


So if you're about to do an interview, don't stress out - we can do it.

All right, so let's look at the types of questions we're going to talk about today.

Today we're talking about behavioural interview questions. Okay?

So let's look at some examples to understand what I mean by "behavioural interview questions".

Okay, so we have this question: "Tell me about a time when you worked effectively under pressure."

So take a moment to think about that question.

"Give an example of how you worked on a team.", "Describe a time when you had to deal with

a very upset customer.", "Have you ever made a mistake?

How did you handle it?"

Okay, so when we're talking about behavioural questions, it's important to think about:

What is being asked of you?


So, the main thing with these types of questions is this word here: "Give an example".

Behavioural questions... behavioural interview questions require that you give an example

of how you have dealt with or handled a situation.

So, my next question to you is: Do you think we're talking about an example of the past,

something that's happened; the present; or the future, something that could happen?

So look at these questions.

Are we talking about a past example, a present example, or a future example?

If you said: "Past example", you are correct.

When we talk about behavioural interview questions, what the interviewer is asking is they want

you to give a past example. Okay?

Something you have done in the past.

How can you recognize these types of questions?

Because there are many different interview types of questions, these are just one type,

so how do you know if it's behavioural interview question?

That's a very good question.

One way to know is by looking for key words. Okay?

So, a lot of the times behavioural questions start off with some sort of hint or clue.

"Tell me about a time" is an example. Okay?

"Tell me about a time when you worked effectively under pressure.", "Tell me about a time when

you disagreed with your boss.", "Tell me about a time when you had problems with your co-workers." Okay?

So lot of the times you will hear: "Tell me about" or "Tell me about a time", and that's

a signal: Okay, this is probably a behavioural interview question.

You might have this as a starter to the question, they might ask you: "Give me an example of

how you worked on a team."

or "Give me an example of a time when you showed leadership." Okay?

So those would both be behavioural questions.

Again: "Describe a time".

A lot of the times you'll hear the word: "a time" or "an example".

So this is another common phrase you will hear with behavioural interview questions.

You might also have a question like this: "Have you ever made a mistake?", "Have you

ever had difficulties working with somebody?", "Have you ever had a conflict with a customer?",

"How did you handle it?

What did you do?"

So these types of questions, they don't have the same key words as the ones above, but

usually they're written or they're said with the present perfect tense, and usually you'll

hear a second follow-up question: "How did you handle it?" Okay?

So, key word here: "did".

If you hear the past tense in the question, then they probably want you to answer the

question using a past example.


So, this might be a little bit confusing, you might be a bit worried, you know: "Oh,

these questions seem really hard."

Well, the very first step is recognizing these questions, so that's what we're going to do

right now.

We are going to practice recognizing behavioural interview questions.

Okay, so now we are going to practice identifying behavioural interview questions. Okay?

So what I want you to do is I want you to pause the video, but before you do that I

want you to get a piece of paper and a pen, and on a piece of paper I want you to make

something that looks like this. Okay?

And once you've done that, then we can get started.

So, pause the video and draw this.

Okay, so welcome back.

What we are going to do now is I am going to say some typical or some common interview questions. Okay?

And you need to decide if they are behavioural questions or not behavioural questions.


So what you can do is when I ask you a question, you can just put a checkmark in either of

these categories.

And so we'll do the first one together so you can see what I mean.

Before we begin, just remember: When we're trying to figure out if it's a behavioural

question, we can listen for the key words.

Oftentimes you'll hear something about an example or "Describe a time", or the key words

I mentioned before, or the question might be in the past tense.

So those are two clues that this is a behavioural interview question. Okay?

So let's get started.

So, the first question is: "Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you

achieved it.

So: Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it."

Is this a behavioural question?

The answer is: Yes it is.


So, again, this is asking you to talk about a past experience of a goal you had and how

you reached that goal.

Okay, so let's ask another question.

Number two: "Where do you see yourself in five years?

Where do you see yourself in five years?"

So, is this a behavioural question?

Okay, so again you need to ask yourself: "Did you hear any key words?

And are we talking about the past, the present, or the future?"

This question is not a behavioural question.


"Where do you see yourself in five years?" we're actually talking about the future; we're

not talking about an example that happened to you in the past.

Question number three.

Okay, so are you ready? Yes? Okay.

"Can you describe three strengths and one weakness?

Can you describe three strengths and one weakness you have?"

So is this a behavioural question? No.

This is not a behavioural question.

When we're talking about strengths and weaknesses, we're talking about the present, we're talking

about, you know, our...

The things that we're good at and the things we're not so good at, but we're not talking

about a past example.


So this is not a behavioural question.

Okay, number four: "Tell me about a time when you had a challenge or conflict you faced

at work, and how you dealt with it."

So, again, the question is: "Tell me about a time where you had a challenge or conflict

you faced at work, and how you dealt with it."

Okay, so this one is a behavioural question.

We heard the key word there: "Tell me about a time", so we know right off the bat: "Okay,

'tell me about a time', that's going to be a behavioural question."

And the question was asked in the past tense, so we know we have to give an experience to

answer the question, something that happened to us in the past.

All right, let's do number five.

What's a time...?

Or: "Describe a time you disagreed with a decision that was made at work.

Describe a time you disagreed with a decision made at work."

Okay, if you said this is also a behavioural interview question, you are correct: "Describe

a time", so that's, again, a key word, and we're talking about something that happened

in the past. Okay.

Question number six: "If you were an animal, which animal would you be and why?

If you were an animal, which animal would you be and why?"

So this question is not a behavioural question.


This is talking about an imaginary situation.

We're not talking about the past, we're talking about something imaginary that hasn't happened.

Okay, and the final question: "Tell us about a time when you were a leader.

Tell us about a time when you were a leader."

Okay, so is this a behavioural question or a different type of question?

If you said this is a behavioural question, you are correct.


And, again, we have the key word: "Tell me about", "Tell me about a time when you were a leader". Okay?

So what we want in the answer is we want you to talk about a time in the past where you

have an example of this.

So now what we're going to do is we're going to learn what makes a really good answer to

a behavioural interview question.

Okay, so we've seen some examples of behavioural interview questions, and there's a lot of

other types of questions they can ask, a lot of other examples of behavioural interview


Now what we're going to talk about is: How do you answer these questions?

So, an answer to a behavioural interview question has four parts.

First of all, you need to talk about a past experience or a past example, and so you need

to talk about when and where did your...

You know, when and where did something happened, what happened, what your actions were, and:

What were the results of your action? Okay?

So, for example, if the question was: "How do you handle stress?" or "Tell me about a

time when you had a stressful situation at work.

What did you do?"

That's an example of a behavioural interview question, so your answer needs to talk about

a specific example, so you need to be very specific and you will have to talk about all

four of these parts to have a complete answer.

So, I have here two examples.

One of these examples is good, and one of these examples is not so good.

I want you to guess: Which is the best example and which is the worst example for an answer?

So the question was, you know: -"Tell me about a time where you had a stressful situation

at work."

-"I work really well under pressure."

Is this a good answer or a bad answer to a behavioural interview question?

Well, this is actually not a great answer and the reason is because: First, it's not

specific; secondly, we don't know when you had this stressful situation, we don't know

where you had a stressful situation, you didn't tell us anything about what happened, you

didn't tell us about your actions, what you did to help yourself in this situation, and

you didn't tell us the results.

So this answer would not do well in a behavioural interview...

This would not be a good response for a behavioural interview question.

Let's look at a different answer.

"When I was a student at XYZ College I had 4 projects due in the same week.

I created a schedule in advance to best manage my time.

I broke each project up into smaller manageable steps.

I finished all the projects.

And my professor was happy with the quality of the work."

So, is this a good answer?

Well, let's check.

Did we talk about when and where this happened?

Yes, we talked about where, it was at XYZ College; and when, when I was a student. Okay?

So we've talked about the background to the story or the setting.

Did we talk about what happened?

"I had four projects due in the same week."

Okay, so this is the stressful situation, so we...

We did talk about what happened.

Did we talk about your actions, how did you manage?

What did you do? Yes.

"I created a schedule.

I broke each project up into smaller manageable steps."

So, yes, we talked about our action, what we did to solve this problem.

And finally, the results.

Did we talk about the results?

"I finished all the projects.

And the professor was very happy with the quality of my work."

Yes, we talked about what happened in the end; we talked about the results.

"The professor was very happy and, you know, I was able to manage."

So, this is an example of how to answer a behavioural interview question.

So now I'm going to give you some tips that can also help you with these types of questions.

Okay, so now we've covered how to identify a behavioural interview question, as well

as how to answer a behavioural interview question.

Now what I'm going to talk about is some important tips to keep in mind when you're dealing with

these types of questions.


So, the very first tip is probably one of the most important on this list, and that

is: You must listen very carefully to the question.

A lot of students, and not just students, a lot of people, even native speakers of English

have the most difficult time at this part.

They don't realize a behavioural interview question is a behavioural interview question,

so they give an answer to something else.

They don't answer the question correctly, they don't realize what the employer or the

interviewer is looking for in a response, so they give the wrong information. Okay?

So it's very important to listen carefully to the question and make sure it's a behavioural

question, and then answer it accordingly.

Another tip is, you know, if English isn't your first language, it can be very stressful

during a job interview when the interviewer asks you a question and you don't understand



If you don't understand it, you can ask them to repeat it.

I'm not saying it's good to do this for every single question, but it's better to actually

ask, you know: "I'm sorry, I didn't catch that.

Can you please repeat the question?"

This is better than to just guess what the interviewer was asking you and to answer something else. Okay?

So if you're not sure what the question was, ask the interviewer to repeat it.

Okay, my next tip is also very important, this is another mistake a lot of people make:

They don't prepare before an interview.

An interview is almost like a test.

You have to prepare.

You need to take some time to think about the questions and think about your answers. Okay?

The reason why people do...

The reason why people have bad interviews is because they're not prepared for the questions.

They don't know what to expect, and then they hear a question, and they've never thought

about it before so they don't know how to answer it.

So if you actually look at common interview questions, especially common behavioural interview

questions, you can think about the question in advance and you can think about your own

experience and how you can answer it. Okay?

So very, very important to prepare before the interview.

So, again, it's great to find common questions, you know, there are many.

And the questions might differ depending on what job you're applying for.

So, for example, if you're going to apply for a store clerk job, you know, they might

have a behavioural question on customer service.

You know: "Tell me about a time when you dealt with an angry customer."

Versus if, you know, maybe you're applying to be a project manager, then a behavioural

interview question might be something like: "Tell me about a time when you made an unpopular decision." Okay?

So based on the job you're applying for, you can often kind of predict or you can guess

what kind of questions they're going to ask you.


So, think about: What's important for this position?

And, you know: What in my own past experience can I talk about to answer these types of questions? Okay.

A lot of people, especially students or people who have a new career, they don't have a lot

of experience, so they hear a question and they think: "Well, I've never...

You know, I've never dealt with an angry customer.

I've never had co-workers I didn't get along with.

I don't know how to answer this question because I don't have this experience."

Well, if that's true, it's okay.

You can be creative.


Your experience isn't only work experience.

You can talk about education.

Maybe there was a class, maybe you had a classmate you didn't get along with.


Maybe you had a professor or a teacher you had problems with.

Maybe you volunteered somewhere, so maybe you could talk about volunteer experience,

or maybe you were a part of a club or some sort of activity, maybe you were on a baseball


There's a lot of things you can talk about.

The most important thing, though, is that you answer the question. Okay?

Okay, a lot of people, you know, they hear the question and they don't know what to say,

so they'll say: "I've never been in that situation before.

I can't answer that."

It's important that you always answer the question, so ideally, first thing is try to

think of other experience, and if you still...

You know, as hard as you try thinking, you still can't think of anything, then the next

best step is to say something like this: "I've never been in that situation before, but if

I were", and so in this case you imagine what you would do.


This is better than not answering, but again, the best thing you can do is talk about a

real experience in the workplace, or you know, an educational experience; and if you don't

have any, then talk about what you would do in that situation. Okay.

Tip number six.

A lot of students are very worried about their English.

"Oh, my English isn't great.

I'm worried.

I, you know...

I'm not good with the present perfect.

Sometimes I make English mistakes."

It's okay.

You know, a lot of the times in an interview what's the most important thing is actually

your ideas.


The content, what you have to say.

So, English is important, yes, but often the most important thing is your answers and the



The ideas you have and what you're talking about.

So it's important to take some time to really think about your experience.

And finally, number seven is also very important: Practice, practice, practice.

I can't say that enough.

Practice with your family, practice with your friends, practice with the mirror, practice

with your dog. Okay?

It doesn't matter who you practice with.

The point is: Practice these questions as much as you can so then when you actually

are asked, you don't have to be really nervous and unprepared.

You'll have practice so you can speak confidently and smoothly. Okay?

So practice is very important.

So I want to thank you for watching this video.

I'd like to invite you to come check out our website at; there, you can

find a quiz on everything you've just learned on behavioural interview questions, as well

as a lot of other great resources that can help you with English or, you know, preparing

for jobs or, you know, resumes, all sorts of different types of things that you might

be interested in.

I also invite you to subscribe to my channel; I have a lot of other resources there on vocabulary,

grammar, IELTS, idioms, all sorts of different types of topics that you might be interested in.

So thanks again for watching; and until next time, take care.

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