Examples of Behavior-Based Questions and Follow Ups

October 1, 1999
What an applicant has done is a better indicator of future job success than what the applicant believes, feels, thinks, or knows. The following questions are useful in getting applicants to discuss work realities rather than notions or suppositions.

  1. Tell me how you increased teamwork among a previous group with whom you worked.
  2. Describe what you liked and disliked about how you were managed in previous positions.
  3. Recall a time when you made what you consider a mistake or a bad decision on the job. How did you handle the situation?
  4. In your past work life, what kind of co-workers or clients rubbed you the wrong way? How did you respond?
  5. Tell me about a time when you set specific work goals for yourself. How did things turn out?
  6. Describe a time when you had to criticize or discipline the performance of someone who worked with you or for you. How did you handle the situation? What was the result?
  7. Walk me through the major highlights of your career so far and tell me where you want to go next.
  8. Tell me about a work emergency or crisis of some kind in which you were involved. What was your role? What did you do?
  9. We’ve all felt stress in our work lives. Tell me about work-related situations that cause stress for you. How do you typically handle such stress?
  10. In your most recent position, what did you learn? How did you apply this learning?
  11. Tell me about a challenge you faced in a previous work situation. How did you respond?
  12. Every manager has to learn to delegate well. Describe a work situation in which you delegated responsibility successfully. Then tell me about a time when your delegation of responsibility did not work out well. How did you handle that situation?
  13. What approaches worked best for you in the past in communicating with your boss? With your co-workers? With your subordinates?
  14. Tell me about a time when you took charge as a leader in a work situation without being formally assigned to that role by your boss.
  15. What experiences have you had working with people of different ethnicities, age, or physical ability levels?
  16. In the past have you had a preference for working mainly with men or women? Explain your answer.
  17. Tell me about a time when you felt you went beyond the call of duty in helping a client.

Useful Probes for Interviewing

Although probing for more extensive answers from candidates is not allowed in strictly structured interviewing environments, the practice is still widely used. It can be applied fairly if each candidate is given the advantage of approximately the same degree of probing by interviewers.

  1. Please clarify what you mean by ...
  2. How did you feel when that happened?
  3. Why do you think you reacted as you did?
  4. Did you consider other options at the time?
  5. Please give me more details about ...
  6. How do you think others felt about your actions at the time?
  7. Looking back on the experience, how do you see things now?
  8. What was going through you mind when you took that action?
  9. Did the outcome of your action satisfy you?