Every position you apply for will ask you to answer a few behavioural questions. The value of these questions is to assess your fit with the company in terms of your past work experience as well as your work ethics, culture, and teamwork abilities. Therefore, it is always a good idea to thoroughly understand the company’s values and mission. It is also ideal to prep for a two minute “tell me about yourself” intro.

Aside from the basics, what other questions do companies often ask? We have compiled 5 most common questions and how you can ace them using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) system.

1. Describe a Time When You Were Given a Difficult Problem and How Did You Solve It.

This question is aimed to test your ability to identify, analyze, and solve a problem. The ideal way to answer this question is to find an example that closely relates to or resembles the position you are applying for. Then, you must explain the problem at hand, how you solved it, and finally, the result of your actions.

Example:

Situation: Last June, we received complaints about the quality of our product.

Task & Action: I arranged a meeting with the quality control department and discovered that the problem seemed to be the low-quality raw materials from our suppliers. As it turned out, the system for checking the quality of raw materials was outdated. I quickly introduced an up-to-date system for checking the quality of raw materials.

Result: Thus, eliminating the problem and complaints from our clients.

2. Tell Me About How You Went About Setting Goals for Your Team Members and How You Motivate Them to Commit.

When candidates are asked this question, interviewers mainly want to know how candidates lead their team and set tangible goals. As well, what methods are adopted to guide their team in achieving their respective goals. You should answer this question by demonstrating your skills in leadership and team management.

Example

Situation: I was introduced as the team leader for our sales department.

Task: Our goal was to reach our sales target of 10 thousand dollars for the month of June.

Action: I called a team meeting and clearly communicated the goal as well as the tasks and actions required to reach this goal. I then asked the team if they had any questions or suggestions. I addressed these questions and concerns and made adjustments to our strategy for the team so that we can more easily accomplish our goal.

Result: Having a good idea of what we needed to do as a team, we worked together and surpassed our goal by $1000 at the end of the month.

3. Give Me an Example of a Suggestion You Recently Made to Your Manager/Co-Worker.

This question is meant to understand your creativity and proactivity. The best way for a candidate to answer this question is by presenting an experience the candidate has had with their employer/manager that shows off their willingness to take initiative.

Example:

Situation: I worked in the purchasing department for XYZ company that launched a new product. The sales department had extensive knowledge/training on the product, but our department had none.

Task: We needed to have a thorough understanding of the product to better assist us with our tasks.

Action: I suggested to my manager that we also receive the same training as the sales department so we can understand the product better and support our vendors better.

Result: My manager thought it was a great idea and implemented training in our department. My colleagues and I were able to assist our vendors more effectively and feel motivated about our work.

4. Name a Time When You had to Work With Difficult People on a Team.

This question aims to ensure you are capable of working with different people, even people who may not share the same values or beliefs. The best way to answer this question is to provide an example where you overcame you and your teammates’ differences and were able to accomplish a task coherently.

Example:

Situation: I was transferred into a new team at work but my teammates were not as welcoming and did not include me in discussions.

Tasks: However, we had an upcoming project that was due in two weeks and needed to work together to complete it.

Action: I decided to talk to each team member about their expectations of me. As well, I found common interests with each person to try and form a bond outside of work. I let them know that I’m eager to help and want to contribute to the team. I also told them about my work style and for feedback or advice when they see fit.

Result: I gradually earned their trust and they accepted me into their team. We completed our project as a team and now have mutual respect and appreciation for each other.

5. Describe a Time When You Made a Mistake at Work and What did You do to Solve It.

The goal of this question is to better understand how you deal with and correct your mistakes. The interviewer wants to see that the interviewee fully realizes his/her mistake and takes full responsibility in correcting it. When answering this question, you should emphasize that you are a detail-oriented and accountable person.

Example:

Situation and Task: In my last position, I was responsible for arranging conference meetings for my manager; however, I made a mistake in placing the meeting at 10 pm instead of 10 am.

Action: Luckily, I noticed my mistake before the meeting occurred. I immediately changed the meeting time and messaged my manager to inform him of my mistake and to ensure he knew the correct time to attend his meeting.

Result: From then on, I would always double-check my work to ensure that I have inputted the right information. I have not made a mistake in scheduling since.

Here are some related articles that may be helpful: Top 9 Most Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them, and How to Ace Your Job Interview: Tricks to Remove Job Interview Butterflies

One final piece of advice we would like to give you is that employers often value your thought process and the way you handle situations more than the actual result. Do mock interviews and reach out to career consultants. Happy job hunting!

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