Behavioral Interview

Behavioral Questions are open ended questions that target past experiences to best predict your future behavior. Interviewers have identified core competencies, and will ask you to describe specific scenarios that relate to those characteristics.

Problem Solving Initiative Flexibility
Communication Conflict Management Achievement/Drive
Leadership Teamwork Stress Management
Technical Expertise Attention to Detail Business Acumen
Time Management Decision Making Etiquitte

Questions typically start with:

  • Tell me about a time when…
  • Walk me through an encounter…
  • Provide me an example…
  • Describe a situation…

Interviewers are trained to score you answer based on the STAR Method:

  • SITUATION (Set the stage): At my internship; Last Fall in my Advanced Level class; On the tennis team
  • TASK (The specific scenario): I had to develop; Our group had to design; The coach expected
  • ACTION (Steps taken toward task): I outlined a plan; My job was to ___ so I ___; I met with each teammate
  • RESULT (What happened): I finished with time to spare; My part fit well with others; The team has improved

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How to Prepare

  • Provide examples from multiple aspects of life (Academics, Internships/Co-op Assignments, other Work Experiences, Extracurricular Activities)
  • Think of 4-6 situations; Read the job description to understand the qualities company is looking for

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Tips for Success

  • Choose scenarios that resulted in a positive outcome or learning experience
  • Emphasize the ACTION and RESULT
  • Interviewers may be interested in how you overcame obstacles when results didn't turn out as you planned. Focus on what you learned from the experience or how you would approach the problem differently next time.
  • Speak as an individual (More “I” than “We” when discussing group project)
  • Be prepared for follow-up questions
  • Use Strong Action Words
    • Achieved, created, attempted, developed, executed, established, conceptualized
  • 80/20 rule
    • Expect to talk 80% of the time

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Sample Questions

Problem Solving

  • When did you solve a difficult problem that had significant impact?
  • Give me an example of a time when you used good judgment/logic to solve a problem.

Decision Making

  • What was the most difficult decision you made recently?
  • Give an example of a time in which you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.


  • Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  • Describe an innovative idea that you produced which led to a significant contribution to the success of an activity or project.
  • Flexibility
  • With examples, convince me that you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations and environments.
  • What kind of supervisor do you work best for? Provide examples.


  • Describe a time when you had difficulty communicating your thoughts to another person or group.
  • Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.

Conflict Management

  • Tell me about a time when you voiced a concern or disagreement to a supervisor or professor.
  • Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with.


  • Describe a situation in which you believe you were effective in achieving an aggressive goal.
  • Give me an example of an important goal that you had set in the past and tell me about your success in reaching it.


  • Tell me about a situation when you coordinated several people to achieve a goal.
  • Summarize a situation where you took the initiative to motivate others on an important issue and achieved results.


  • Can you tell me about an occasion where you needed to work with a group to get a job done?
  • Describe when a group that you were a part of was in danger of missing a deadline. What did you do?

Stress Management

  • Describe your most disappointing experience.
  • Describe a time on any job that you held in which you were faced with problems or stresses that tested your coping skills.

Technical Expertise

  • Tell me about a time you were effective in putting your technical expertise to use to solve a problem.
  • Describe a time where you were required to use a certain technology that you did not know well.

Attention to Detail

  • Tell me about a significant project you have worked on in which it was crucial to keep track of details.
  • Describe a situation that required a number of things to be done at the same time. How did you handle it?

Business Acumen

  • Describe a situation where you had to request help or assistance on a project or assignment.
  • Describe a time when you did not have all the information required to get the task done

Time Management

  • Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
  • Describe a time in school when you had many projects or assignments due at the same time. What steps did you take to get them all done?

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