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Behavioral Interview Questions

Erin Dunne, The Yenching Academy 2017

Behavioral Interviewing (BI) is a style in which questions about past experiences are used to elicit information about underlying values, character-traits, and skills as well as to predict future behavior in similar situations.  

BI questions often begin with an introductory phrase such as “Tell me about a time when…” as opposed to specific, performance-related questions that may have straightforward answers.

The general purpose of BI questions is to get a sense of how past actions and experiences may predict future success.  Read more about preparing for a Behavioral Interview in this article

STAR Technique

A common technique for responding to BI questions is STAR:

  • Situation - Describe in 1-2 sentences the context for the story you will tell including the relevant details regarding your position.
  • Task - Describe in 1-2 sentences the task you were asked to perform, the problem that you sought to solve, or the opportunity that you hoped to exploit.
  • Action - Describe in 2-4 sentences the specific actions you took to address this problem or opportunity.
  • Result - Describe in 1-2 sentences the tangible outcomes of your action and next steps for follow-up (if appropriate). 

Sample Behavioral Interview Questions

Here are a set of practice questions in BI format drawn from the criteria for the Knight Hennessy Scholarship at Stanford.  Pick out one or two questions from each category and write your own STAR response.