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Ideal responses to 8 challenging behavioral interview questions!

Screening candidates for soft skills are often the toughest part of an interview. Recruiters have just an hour to figure out if you have the qualities they are looking for in their next potential candidate.

That’s why behavioral interview questions still carry a lot of value. They are a time-tested way to identify a candidate’s ability to collaborate, adapt, and more — particularly for newcomers with more international than Canadian experience. By getting to know a little about you, the interviewer can easily determine what you will be like to work with.

Here are eight frequently asked challenging behavioral interview questions to help prep you for the next interview.

1. “Tell us about a challenging decision you have had to make in the recent past or at your previous workplace?”

You are being evaluated on your problem-solving skills, reasoning ability, judgment, and adeptness to take intelligent risks.

Ideal response: Relate an example where you made a difficult analytical or interpersonal decision, maybe wading through reams of data to determine the best solution to a problem.

2. “Tell us about a major mistake you made, and what you did to correct it.”

The goal is to evaluate how you deal with errors, take responsibility, and work hard to learn from mistakes.

Ideal response: You took responsibility for a major mistake, worked hard to correct it, and took steps to ensure it would never happen again — or at the very least to minimize the chances. Great employees see the past as training: it doesn’t define them, but it does inform their decisions and actions going forward.

3. “Tell us about an instance a colleague or client got upset with you.”

The goal is to evaluate a candidate’s interpersonal skills and ability to deal with conflict, especially in a professional setting.

Ideal response: You first made sure to find out why the customer or co-worker was mad, were willing to admit if you were wrong and took responsibility, what you did in response, and how the situation turned out both in the short and long term.

4. “Tell us about a time you knew you were right, but still had to follow directions.”

There is no right or wrong answer here. They are simply trying to evaluate your ability to follow and also to lead.

Ideal response: You did what needed to be done, especially in a time-critical situation, then found an appropriate time and place to raise issues and work to improve the status quo. All along, you also stayed motivated and helped motivate others as well.

5. “Tell us about the last time when you met a tough deadline in time.”

The goal is to evaluate your accountability, prioritization skills, and ability to win whatever the situation.

Ideal response: You stayed late to finish a critical task and/or prioritized — but, most important, communicated early on that deadlines were in jeopardy. Remember, good employees take care of things, but the great ones also ensure that others are aware of potential problems ahead of time just in case.

6. “Tell us about a time you needed to motivate a colleague.”

The goal is to evaluate your ability to be a situational, servant leader, a great sign of leadership potential.

Ideal response: You offered encouragement (a nice start) but also went beyond and offered a helping hand. Words are great, but actions are greater. You actually uplifted a colleague who was struggling and fell behind. You helped the individual to find the spark to keep going. A sign of an outstanding team player.

7. “Tell us about a time you had to raise an uncomfortable issue with your superiors.”

The goal is to evaluate how ready and candid you can be when it’s easier to remain silent.

Ideal response: You have a natural inclination for issues and concerns of those around you. Plus, you were bold enough to raise an issue about a process and were willing to ask questions or raise important issues where others would have hesitated.

8. “Tell us about a goal you were given and how you achieved it.”

Of course, the point of this question is pretty obvious.

Ideal response: Once you were given a goal, you followed the steps or created your own plan, at the same time, you adapted to the roadblocks and challenges along the way that popped up and delivered on time, on strategy.

READ MORE: Tips to answer the number 1 interview question: ‘Tell us about yourself.’

Be authentic and shine through. Your ability to turn the behavioral interview into a fact-based conversation will help you smartly bridge the gap between your resumé and your actual experience, qualifications, and accomplishments. Be authentic and you will naturally shine through.


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