Top Behavioral Based Interview Questions and Answers

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If you’re not prepared for a behavioral job interview, the questions you're asked can seem unnecessarily indirect or abstract.

Since behavioral interview questions can be enormously useful for helping employers determine who to hire, they’re also among the most common interview questions you’ll encounter. Preparing answers to behavioral based interview questions is essential for anyone who hopes to ace their next job interview.

How to Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions

You can prepare for behavioral interview questions by first studying job postings for the types of positions you want to obtain and gathering information about the companies where you want to apply. Job postings are typically packed with useful information about the types of experience and qualities that employers are seeking, which feed directly into the behavioral questions you’ll be asked in the job interview.

Likewise, the best examples of successful applicants you’ll find are the company’s current employees. The rest of your preparation lies within planning to use that information with anecdotes about how you’ve exemplified those desirable traits in the past to answer the behavior-based questions you’re asked.

Suppose you learn the employer is searching for highly dependable employees. Telling someone that you believe you’re dependable doesn’t really communicate much information. Yet, maybe you’ve never missed a day of work in the past two years. Telling your interviewer about your attendance record can help bring your claims of dependability to life. 

As important as it is to prepare for behavioral interview questions, it’s equally important to know you’ve been interviewing at the right places. If you have doubts, take our Career Wizard Quiz find out if you should consider another field or if a different industry may be a better fit for your career goals.

Examples of Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers

Behavioral Interview Questions About Leadership

Here are examples of common behavioral interview questions designed to determine your leadership capabilities and some ways to think about answering these questions.

1. Do you have an example of a time where you delegated efficiently?

If you don’t have much work experience, cite examples from college. Maybe there was a time where you were assigned to lead a group of students in completing a lengthy research project. The project had a writing component, a research component, and a data entry component. Perhaps you took the initiative to familiarize yourself with the strengths of everyone in the group, and after a brief discussion with the group regarding personal preferences, were able to delegate each task, resulting in your group earning an A for the project.

2. How have you led by example?

Consider pointing to areas where you’ve lead by example in the workplace. It doesn’t have to relate directly to a project. Demonstrating a cultural fit -- such as taking the initiative to clean up a break room yourself instead of lecturing messy colleagues and pointing fingers. Describe how your actions helped prompt others to follow suit, encouraging a greater sense of pride and boosting morale among teammates.

Behavioral Interview Questions on Time Management

Being able to manage your time and prioritize projects is an important skill to master. Knowing you’re able to make the best use of your time -- and the company’s time -- is a valuable trait. Here are some examples of behavior based interview questions related to time management and how to answer them.

3. How do you handle a lot of responsibility?

Describe your previous positions. For instance, maybe you worked at a local hospital and were responsible for overseeing the data center. When data requests came through, speed and reliable connectivity was sometimes a matter of life and death. Mention that although this position was stressful at times, you learned a number of coping strategies to help manage free time more effectively.

4. Do you have an example of how you strategically work to get done everything on your to-do list?

Discuss any major projects you’ve worked on in the past and how you broke each one down, piece by piece to complete it successfully. For instance, perhaps you were responsible for building a portion of your company’s website. Discuss the various components you needed to execute, such as web design, images, and text. Discuss how you prioritized the components, understanding what aspects of the project needed to be completed first before other areas could be developed. Also discuss how you may have set daily and weekly deadlines for each section, how you tracked progress, and whether you completed the project on-time or ahead of schedule.

Behavioral Interview Questions on Communication

No matter what job you’re going after, communication is key. Here are some behavioral interview questions designed to learn more about your communication style and skills, along with examples of answers.

5. Can you give an explanation of how you’d communicate an involved idea/solution to a client or coworker who is confused or misunderstanding?

Maybe you had a coworker who was reluctant to learn a new type of software. Although the rest of your colleagues had agreed that a new version of the software could be a major time-saver, your colleague was resistant to change. 

Consider talking about how you helped convince your coworker by first taking the time to listen to his reasons to gauge his understanding of the issue. Rather than telling him where you felt he was wrong, you asked him questions that could help him see for himself why new software might benefit him. Though he was notoriously stubborn, this approach caused him to gradually change his own thinking on the issue.

6. What major challenges and problems you’ve had and how did you overcome them?

Everyone gets sick -- sometimes at the worst possible time. Maybe there was a time where you were sidelined with the flu and were unable to meet an important project timeline. Explain how you communicated your illness and problem to your supervisors and teammates. Maybe you were able to get an extension on your deadline? Or perhaps you were able to convince your coworkers and help delegate some of your portion of the project so the team could meet their deadline, taking a proactive approach.

Client-facing Behavioral Interview Questions

Many positions require people to deal with the public. These questions -- and hypothetical answers -- can help you demonstrate how you would handle client situations.

7. What have you done that has been most effective in persuading others to your own ideas?

Use this as an opportunity to describe a situation where your words and actions convinced a client or team member to act upon your recommendations. Discuss preparation for a presentation and an area where you felt strongly that acting upon your findings could benefit a client -- and what it took to convince them.

8. Can you describe a situation where you disagreed with someone who had more authority than you?

It can be intimidating to voice an opinion to a client or a boss that they may disagree with -- even if you feel it could benefit them in the long run. For example, discuss a time at a previous job where you identified a task that could be done differently and more efficiently. Describe how you broached the subject, cited specific advantages to a change in policy, and showed tangible proof of either monetary or time savings.

Behavioral Interview Questions About Teamwork

Right behind communication skills, the ability to work with a diverse group of colleagues is one of the most important traits an employee can have. Here are some examples of teamwork-related interview questions and some answers to consider.

9. Can you give me an example of a team project that failed?

You can draw from prior work experience, or even a time when you were still in school. For instance, maybe you were given a group assignment in a biology course you took, but there were strong conflicts of personality in the group. You can cite attempting to tap into conflict resolution strategies you had learned in a prior course and that you kept trying to contribute to the project. Maybe, despite your best efforts, your group was unable to get along and it negatively impacted the project.

You can highlight not just how you tried to resolve conflict, but be honest and up-front about what didn’t work and take ownership of failure -- and how you bounced back from it.

10. Do you have any favorite team experiences?

Draw upon experiences where you worked with someone who had a different approach to work than you. Offer an instance of how you may have given your colleague’s methods a chance -- and vice versa -- and how you were both able to learn and benefit from each other’s methods and find new ways of tackling a common issue.

Why Behavioral Interview Questions Are Important for Insurance Jobs

Behavioral interview questions are one of the best ways to help gauge those traits. However, keep in mind that even similar companies may look for different things. Behavioral interview questions are ultimately a measure of how well you match or conflict with a company’s culture, which is why taking the time to determine an employer’s needs is a key part of this process.

As is the case with many large industries, collaboration is an important part of working in insurance. You may have to work alongside data analysts, claims specialists, or even other providers. Because you’re exposed to so many different people who have different duties to perform, some of the most important skills you can have aren’t measured by degrees or certifications. Instead, it’s the intangible qualities like reliability, good listening skills, or strong verbal and written communication skills that are essential to making sure things go smoothly.

Explore the MyPath Blog for more advice on applying, interviewing for, and landing the job of your dreams, or, check out our Career Wizard Quiz to see which insurance jobs best fit your personality and lifestyle.