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How to Answer Common Behavioral Interview Questions

Believe it or not, when you’re interviewing for a job, your qualifications, experience, and education aren’t always the most important elements in the discussion. In fact, in most cases you can bet that all of the applicants who are invited for phone or in-person interviews are qualified to perform the tasks necessary for the position.

However, company culture and customer service are both big parts of almost any job. That’s why so many interviews are based more on behavioral questions than technical questions, especially as you progress deeper into the interview process. Fortunately, most of these questions are fairly universal, and you can prepare for the more common ones before you sit down for your interview.

Teamwork Questions

You’ll likely be asked about how well you work with a team. They’ll want to know about your strengths, your weaknesses, and how self-aware you are about them. To show that you’re a team player and that you know your work habits well, describe a time when you had to work on a team project. Talk about the challenges and conflicts your team faced and how you dealt with them.

You can even discuss a time when you struggled to work well with others or when you made a huge mistake that you wish you could do over when building a professional relationship with someone in your field. These kinds of stories show that you are self-aware and that you’ve learned from past mistakes and experiences.

Questions About Adaptability

You’re also going to run into a lot of questions about your adaptability. Today’s market is always shifting and changing. Companies grow, merge, split, and change paths more quickly than you might think, and they want to know that their employees will be on board with them and able to adapt to changing environments and responsibilities.

Questions about your adaptability to change could include topics such as describing the challenges you faced at your first job, talking about a time you failed and how you overcame it, or describing an instance when a major change took place in your workplace and how you handled it.

Communication Questions

Finally, no matter what business you’re in, you’re going to run into questions about how you communicate. These help determine whether your style of communication will mesh well with company culture and with the people you’ll be working alongside. These will include questions about times you’ve been able to persuade an individual or group of people you worked with, successful presentations you’ve given, and other examples of your communication skills and style.

If you take some time and think about how you’ll answer these kinds of questions, you’ll be able to practice your interviewing skills effectively and give concise, clear answers that will set you apart.

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Jessica Holbrook Hernandez

A nationally recognized resume expert, Jessica Holbrook Hernandez is President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast and a former human resources manager and recruiter. Leveraging more than ten years’ experience directing hiring practices for Fortune 500 companies, Jessica's innovative and brand-driven resume development strategies have secured a 99.6% interview-winning success rate for her clients. As a global resume authority and trusted media source, Jessica has been featured and quoted numerous times throughout CNN.com, The Chicago Tribune, Monster.com, Local Job Network Radio, International Business Times, and more.
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