How To Answer Behavioral Interview Questions

With the variety of challenges that Business Analysts face throughout the span of their career, one of the most valuable skills that one must possess is the ability to solve problems in a logical and analytical way. This crucial skill can be extremely difficult to judge on paper, though, so it is very common for Business Analysts interviewing for a new role to be tested with some behavioral interview questions. 

While this type of questioning may seem daunting at first, understanding its purpose and a little more about how to approach behavioral interview questions can help take the edge off. 

What Are Behavioral Interview Questions?

As the name implies, behavioral interview questions are asked so the interviewer can analyze the interviewee’s behavior as they answer inquiries related to their problem-solving skills and experience. 

The interview candidate is often given challenging hypothetical situations and asked to find a solution to the problem, or will be asked to recount past challenges for which they’ve created solutions.

To recap from an earlier article I wrote, behavioral interview questions are often prompted with these phrases:

  • “Give me an example of…”
  • “Describe a situation where…”
  • “Tell me about a time when you…”
  • “What would you do if…”

Sample questions may include:

  • “Tell me about a time when you employed teamwork skills to solve a problem at work.”
    “How did you handle a stressful situation at work?” 
    “Give me an example of a creative solution you came up with for a problem at your last job.”

How To Prepare For Behavioral Interview Questions

Not to make this any more intimidating than it already is, but the importance of behavioral interview questions cannot be understated. I know what you’re thinking: “seriously, Jeremy?!”. It’s the harsh reality. These questions truly are important in assessing your ability to work your way – logically, analytically, and strategically – through problems to solutions. 

The good news? By acing these questions, you’re likely putting yourself among the top-tier candidates also being considered for this role. 

Here are some essential tips you should follow as you prepare for behavior interview questions:

Do Your Research

When it comes to any interview – but more specifically, when it comes to behavioral questions – proper preparation makes a world of difference. Without in-depth preparation prior to your interview, you risk blanking out, not providing impactful answers, and giving your interviewer a bad impression. 

To drastically increase your chances of leaving a good impression and being a memorable candidate, research the company and the position you’re applying for beforehand. Re-read the job description carefully, and make note of the specific skills the successful candidate is required to have. 

In addition to that, be sure you research the company before your interview. Gather as much knowledge as you can about their mission and vision, the qualities they value, their team, and initiatives they currently have on the go. Great places to look for this information include the company website and their social media platforms (which are sometimes even more up-to-date than the company website!).

Commit to Some ‘Me Time’

This may seem silly but stick with me here. We’re all well aware of our own past professional and educational experience, our credentials, our accomplishments, and our goals, but spend some time making note of these things, and of past projects that resonate with the role for which you are interviewing. 

You could walk into an interview thinking “I know what I’ve done in the past.” Or you could walk into the interview knowing how specific examples of your past experiences and the skills you utilized or developed from them are directly relevant to the role and the company. 

Sometimes, it can be difficult to come up with answers on the spot, which can lead to nervousness and uncertainty. Working on your answers (yes, even before you know the specific questions) will help prepare you for the interview and will add to your level of confidence. This is also a great segue into my next tip…

Prepare Well-Thought Out and Thorough Answers

We’ve established that problem-solving is an essential skill for any successful BA, and that it’s crucial to successfully answer behavioral questions in interviews. Each answer to a behavioral question must establish or reinforce that you are capable of identifying problems, evaluating potential solutions, and proposing the optimal solution to that problem.

But problem-solving skills are constantly evolving. Regardless of whether you’re an aspiring Business Analyst or a seasoned vet, the skills and techniques we use to solve problems are constantly evolving and being refined. One way that newer BA’s can fast-track honing their problem-solving skills, though, is to take a look at my course Identify and Define the Problem with Business Analysis.

Whether you’re a young professional or you have years of experience, well-thought-out answers that paint a clear picture of your problem-solving abilities are crucial for doing well when answering behavioral questions.

Use the STAR Method

One technique that will help you formulate solid responses to behavior questions is the STAR method. This method helps you structure your answers in a way that provides clarity and tells the story of how you tackled a challenge. 

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Let’s explore these concepts together.

Situation

The first part of the method starts by explaining the situation that you were facing. It should answer questions like ‘What was the situation/challenge? Who was involved? Why did it occur?’ It’s crucial to provide this context information before moving towards the problem identification/solving portion.

Task

Next, you should focus on explaining the role you played in problem-solving. That should include important details like the responsibilities you took on to ensure the task was completed successfully.

Action

Once you’ve explained the situation and the role you played in solving the challenge, you should provide a detailed explanation of the actions and steps you and your team took to solve the problem. When describing this, be sure to offer insight into the logic behind why you chose this specific solution and the steps you took to execute it.

Result

Conclude your answer by explaining the end result. Ensure that you provide all the important details about your actions and highlight your strengths. 

Remember: now is not the time to be bashful. Be proud of the challenge that you and your team overcame, and the hard work you put into solving this problem. Take credit for the work you did, the ideas you thought of, and the end results that came as a result of your labor. And don’t be afraid to share lessons that were learned.

Using the STAR method to structure your answers ensures that you’re providing well-rounded, thorough responses that clearly illustrate how you apply problem-solving skills in your work.

Examples of Good and Bad Interview Answers

A good answer will typically follow the STAR structure. The first section of the answer should discuss the situation and task.

Here’s a good example of how you should structure your answer: 

“In my time as a Finance Associate at ABC Corp., I was responsible for maintaining daily voucher entries and recording the monthly financial statements. Unfortunately, one of the main issues that I had to encounter was incorrect reporting of expenses.”

This part explains the situation in a concise yet detailed manner and will let the employer know about all the necessary information. 

The second part of your answer should address the approach and the result: 

“After identifying the issue, it was my responsibility to take the issue up with relevant stakeholders. After doing so, we developed a standard template for reporting expenses that helped ensure that incorrect expense reporting was eliminated altogether!”

A bad answer looks something like this:

“In my time at ABC Corp., I was responsible for managing finances. Along the way, I helped solve a number of different problems. Any sort of issue that arose I was up for dealing with and solved successfully.”

This is a bad answer because it’s very general and doesn’t provide the employers with the necessary information. It’s a vague explanation of any potential problem-solving skills. 

Some Parting Advice

Behavioral interview questions have become a standard portion of Business Analyst role interviews. Whether you enjoy or loathe them, they will very likely make an appearance at your next BA interview, so it benefits you to prepare yourself for them ahead of time. 

For more information on how you can prepare for these questions, check out my recent article ‘How to Ace Behavioral Interview Questions’ too! 

Happy learning!

Written by Jeremy Aschenbrenner, The BA Guide

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