It happens to the best recruiters. You researched interview tips. You asked the smartest questions, and the candidate had ace answers. They get hired immediately. Days later, you hear they were a dud.

What happened? Answers to job interview questions are everywhere. Smart candidates know how to research, prepare, and charm. But you don’t just want smart candidates. You want your candidates to be talented, driven, and aligned with the company culture. How do you use behavioral interview questions to find that ideal candidate?

What are behavioral questions?

Past behavior predicts future behavior. Behavioral interview questions can reveal a candidate’s on-the-job actions.

  • How will they respond to managers or coworkers with strong personalities?
  • How will they handle overlapping deadlines?
  • How will they deal with a micromanaging client?

Ways to use behavioral questions to your advantage

Be aware of your bias

It’s natural to align with someone you like and who reminds you of you. They made you laugh! They were a point guard in high school, too! You’re both wearing stripes!

People tend to hire folks who are just like them. While stripes are quite fashionable and a sense of humor is a must, hiring based on personal similarities can hold your company back.

Ask interviewees the same questions in the same order

Structured interviews are twice as effective as unstructured interviews. Have a list of questions and ask them in the same order. Like a psychologist doing research, you want to assess your interviewees using the exact same metrics. This is an effective way to organize interviews and a clearer way to review your candidates.

Don’t give away answers

Most savvy candidates are studying for the interview. For every recruitment post giving interview strategies, there’s a job search post giving answers. Phrase questions in a way that allows the interviewee to apply their own values.

Leading: This position requires a candidate who is adaHow did you adapt to a major change that occurred at a job you held?
Open: Can you describe a major change that occurred at a job you held?

Leading: Our client values quick, decisive, bold decisions. Discuss an important decision you made regarding a task or project. What factors influenced your decision?
Open: Can you tell me about an important decision you made about a task or project?

Leading: Give an example of a time when you had to keep from finishing a task because you didn’t have enough information to come to a good decision.
Open: Can you tell me about a situation in which you did not have all the information you needed to move forward?

Ask questions for your client, as well as your own questions

Your questions should serve your client and you. Talk to your client first–it makes the recruitment process faster. Be sure to include your insight about what makes a person a great employee.

Then, create a list of questions to help you find the next best employee for your client. Below are examples of questions to evaluate a candidate’s analytical, problem-solving and interpersonal skills.


  • Tell me about a time when you had to analyze information and make a recommendation.
  • Give an example of a time in which you had to make a quick decision.
  • What steps do you follow before making a decision? Why?

Problem Solving

  • Can you give me an example of how you responded to a challenge on a project?
  • Can you tell me how you handle team members you disagree with?
  • How would you handle an unexpected topic of discussion during a meeting?

Interpersonal Skills

  • Tell me about the most difficult or frustrating individual you’ve had to work with.
  • Tell me about a time you worked on a team.
  • Tell me about the last time you had a conflict with a customer or coworker.

Did we miss anything? What are you firm’s interview tips? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook.