Examples Of Some Of The Best Behavioural Interview Questions

What Are The Most Common Behavioral Interview Questions Employers Should Ask?

There are two kinds of behavioural interview questions I will cover in this article:

  1. Interesting behavioural interview questions posed by wildly successful business leaders; and
  2. Employers should still ask common, albeit hallow, behavioural interview questions to check whether the candidate came prepared. 

A job interview is a predictable social exercise, and interview questions don't paint a whole picture, but they can provide a good sense of a candidate. 

Adam Bryant, head writer for the New York Times Corner Office series, says three job interview principles can help you hire the right employee:

  1. Be creative. Every candidate will be prepared for commonplace interview questions. Find new ways to understand how a person truly thinks.
  2. Be challenging. Put the candidate in situations where they are more likely to show their true selves.
  3. Allow your employees to help. You are one of many people who will have to work with this candidate. There is likely already a team of employees you trust that will have to interact with them every day. Their opinion should matter.

The Law

Before we get started, let's discuss what you can't ask in an interview. Interview questions should not directly or indirectly classify or indicate qualifications as per a prohibited ground of discrimination, including, but not limited to, race, colour, religion, origin, sex, sexual orientation, age and disability.

When inappropriate behavioural interview questions relating to discrimination grounds are asked in a job interview, an inference may be made that such questions may have influenced a decision not to hire the candidate. 

Now that we know the law and what we can't ask candidates, what interview questions should we ask? 

Interesting Behavioral Interview Question Examples

Behavioural interview questions are the best because they make candidates think on their feet, just like the job they are interviewing for.

Furthermore, behavioural interview questions are genuine. Behavioural interview questions open the candidate to their authentic selves, unlike the manufactured answers to boilerplate interview questions that everyone expects and has practised for.

List Of Famous Interview Questions

Occasionally, business leaders have publicly disclosed their favourite interview questions to ask candidates. Here's a sample:

1. What important truth do very few people agree with you on? (Peter Thiel (PayPal))

Peter Thiel said about his favourite interview question: "This question sounds easy because it's straightforward. It's tough to answer. It isn't easy because the knowledge that everyone is taught in school is, by definition, agreed upon. And it's psychologically difficult because anyone trying to answer must say something she knows to be unpopular. Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius."

2. What didn't you get a chance to include on your résumé? (Richard Branson (Virgin))

This interview question indicates what the candidate normally wouldn't divulge, allowing the interviewer to understand the person better. 

3. You're standing on the surface of the Earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west, and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you? (Elon Musk (Tesla, Space X, Tesla))

Elon Musk doesn't care whether applicants give the correct answer. Instead, he uses the interview question as evidence to see how they analyze the problem.

4. What do you want to do differently in your next role? (Max Mullen (Instacart))

Max Mullan said this about his favourite interview question: "The best answers highlight what they're running toward, rather than what they're running from in their current job. Suppose they launch into what they don't like about their boss or current company. That tells you a lot. It tests whether they're positive and how they handle adversity." 

5. Tell me about your best and worst days at work? (Chris O'Neill (Evernote))

Entrepreneur Magazine reported Mr O'Neill said this about his behavioural interview question: "The answers are very revealing. 'Best day' answers demonstrate what makes that person tick and what motivates them. 'Worst day' answers tell whether a person is a team player — if their response focuses on what went wrong without taking any ownership, there is a good chance they won't thrive in a collaborative environment.

6. If I called your current boss, what would they say about you? (Chris Williams, (pocket.watch))

"The question that is typically the most revealing is interviewees tend to be very honest in their response because they anticipate that there's an actual possibility I'll make that call" (source).

7. What was the last costume you wore? (David Gilboa (Warby Parker))

Mr Giboa says this interview question lets "them find out if a candidate has a fun and quirky persona that matches the company's values." It also breaks the ice.

8. What do you want to be when you grow up? (Stewart Butterfield (Slack, Flickr))

Butterfield says this about this interview question: "Good answers are usually about areas in which they want to grow, things they want to learn, things that they feel like they haven't had a chance to accomplish yet but want to accomplish… A very short answer to that question would be automatically bad."

9. Are you the most intelligent person you know? (Larry Ellison (Oracle))

If the candidate answered "yes," they'd get hired. If they answered "no," the recruiter would ask, "Who is?" Then they'd try to hire that other person instead, Business Insider reported.

10. What questions would you ask yourself if you were us? (Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google))

CNBC reported that the Google cofounders asked this question to candidates to interview themselves in front of them, a highly behavioural exercise which Google is famous for, although they later said most exercises were "useless".

11. On a scale of 1-10, with one being the best and ten being the worst, how detail-oriented would you rate yourself and why?

Throw this question out of the blue. They didn't listen and comprehend the question if they answered a high number.

Other Classic Behavioral Interview Question Examples

The reason why common interview questions seem lame or vapid is that any candidate can answer that they have the skills to do the job. But, these classic behavioural interview questions should still be asked in most scenarios because they can show whether the employee failed to prepare for the moment, which is a major red flag. 

List Of Common Behavioral Interview Questions

  1. What do you do for fun on the weekends? This question will help ease the tension in the room. There is no wrong answer here.
  2. You want to hire someone who genuinely likes his job. What was your favourite thing about your last position? Follow this question by asking, what was your least favourite thing? This could be a way to get a sense of whether the candidate will enjoy the job in the long run or grow to hate the job.
  3. What is your dream job? This is another good way to decide whether the candidate likes or dislikes the job.
  4. Have you ever had an incident where you disagreed with your supervisor? If yes, what was it, and how did you handle it? This one is a classic, and I'm not too fond of it, but I respect it. It shows whether or not the candidate can and will make workplace problems better or make them worse. It also shows whether the candidate did their homework and prepared for the interview because this question is so common most people should have practised it.
  5. Is it better to be good and on time or perfect and late with your work? This is a trick question, and there is no right answer. Whether the candidate can explain which is better in certain circumstances matters. 
  6. Why should I hire you? If the candidate can't sell himself, he hasn't prepared or thought about the "strength" he brings to the job, meaning he failed to practise the most basic interview prep. If he stumbles on this, move on.
  7. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? This is a good one to show whether the candidate will leave once he gets more experience. Employers should look to retain staff over the long haul. Brain drain is a big problem for top companies.
  8. When is it appropriate to hang up on/be rude to a customer? The answer is always, never.
  9. What would you say if you gave your last boss a performance review? This question shows the candidate's ability to manage people, especially people the candidate may or may not like.
  10. Describe a situation where you have gone above and beyond. This interview question shows which candidate will do the most for the company.
  11. Do you have any questions for me? If there is no answer, the candidate isn't interested or lacks the necessary communication skills. 

It's cliché and constantly emits a little lie. Don't ask your candidate to lie. Don't ask, what is your biggest weakness?

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