How Do I Answer: Behavioral Interview Questions

Behavioral questions are designed to allow the hiring manager to understand how you solve problems and what kind of a work style you have.  Most of the time you can draw upon your experience and give an example of how you have addressed the issue they outline.  There will be times when the question doesn’t directly apply to your experience. 

When this happens then your answer is hypothetical but is still equally valuable for them to more fully understand your thought process.

There is a great format for responding well to behavioral questions. It’s called S-A-R for Situation – Action – Result.  If you follow this format you will form an excellent response.

  • Situation: describe the situation where your example took place.  Be brief as possible without losing pertinent details that put your actions and result in context.
  • Action: describe what action you took and why you took that action.
  • Result: describe the result that occurred with the action you took.

It is also not possible to cover all the possible behavioral questions so the better way to prepare is to write and practice responses that you create.  We will give you a response to one question so you can see S-A-R demonstrated.

Question: Tell me about a time in your past when you had to work with a difficult boss or peers, how did you handle it?

Answer: (Situation) I worked in an organization that had a highly experienced person that was excellent at her work.  She researched issues and always had great solutions.  She was also quick to point out when someone else had a problem that needed fixing.  Sometimes, she would fix someone else issues without their knowledge. Many people found her difficult and a pain to work with.

(Action) I recognized her excellence but also that not all issues she worked on were of equal importance. I asked her if she was open for some feedback. I sat down with her and showed her the differences of impact of some of the items she would bring up to others.  The other thing I discussed was the impact of her actions on others when she took over some of their things without their permission.

(Result) She became better liked as a result of not over powering other people and taking over their work.  She also became a resource to be consulted rather than avoided.  She also would openly acknowledge the size of impact of issues.  This gave more credibility to her because not everything can be an “A” priority.  She was less frustrated with her peers.

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Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is a Career Coach and expert on helping her clients achieve their goals. Her programs cover: Career growth and enhancement, Career Change, Retirement Alternatives and Job Search Strategy. Want to discover specific career change strategies that get results? Discover how by claiming your FREE gift, Career Makeover Toolkit at:

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is a certified life and career coach. She works with aspiring professionals who are looking for career growth, advancement and entry into the “C” suite. As well, she works with people to overcome the sometimes daunting task of changing careers. With over 21 years in management, Dorothy has coached, trained and guided other professionals who have gone on to impressive and fulfilling careers. Her personal philosophy about careers is: “It’s not JUST a job; it’s half your life – so love your career”. You can check out her resources, blog and services at Next Chapter New Life and MBA Highway.

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