Check out our list of behavioral interview questions from top tech companies.
Updated in 2023
When preparing for interviews, tech professionals often focus on challenging technical interview questions on skills like coding. But preparing for behavioral interviews is just as important. In a behavioral interview, interviewers assess your soft skills and if you fit the company culture. Questions usually focus on your past experiences and approach to problem-solving. While behavioral interview questions may seem straightforward, employers are often seeking very specific responses– you’ll need to know how to respond to get the job.
We’ve made a list of some of the most common 25 behavioral interview questions and answers to help you land your dream tech job. Knowing common interview questions to expect can help you go into your tech interview with confidence. Behavioral Interview questions can be divided into five categories:
How do you answer behavioral interview questions about teamwork?
Your ability to work well with others is critical for a successful tech career. Interviewers often ask questions about teamwork to gauge your ability to build internal relationships. There may be times when you must compromise on the solution to a project and take your peers’ advice. Recruiters also want to understand your emotional intelligence and how well you can handle working with different personalities.
Below are some common examples of teamwork-related questions and ways to respond. If you’re new to the industry, it’s OK to substitute a situation that might have arisen at school or when working in a different field.
- Tell me about a time you solved a conflict at work.
- Do you prefer to work with a team or independently?
- Describe a situation where you had to lead a group that had difficulties. How did you handle it?
- Have you handled a difficult situation with a coworker? How?
- How do you collaborate with others?
Let’s look at question 3. Start by describing a situation where you had to take the lead. It could have been for a school project or a task that needed handling in a previous job. Give the interviewer details about the project you were working on.
Next, talk about an issue that came up. Avoid cataloging everything that went wrong. Instead, focus on a specific problem and how you contributed to finding a solution that satisfies everyone on the team. You can use the following example as a model.
I’m always willing to take the lead when needed. When my professor asked for volunteers to work on a website for a nonprofit, I took the tech lead role, which involved getting other students to collaborate on the build.
No matter your role, you will inevitably have to work in a team–interviewers want you to demonstrate your ability to work well with others. Make it clear that you work effectively with a team, but can still work as an individual when required.
How do you answer behavioral interview questions about adaptability?
In the tech industry, it seems like nothing stays the same. You may suddenly need to set aside a project you’ve focused on for the past few months for another deemed a higher priority. Or you might be asked to work on several projects at once. That means juggling tasks different teams have assigned to you.
Adaptability questions gauge how well you adapt to fluid work situations. You want to demonstrate your willingness to contribute even in areas where you may have a limited amount of experience. Since the tech industry requires continued upskilling, adaptability questions can also assess your willingness to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies.
Our research shows that adaptability is the most important soft skill for recruiting new talent. “Adaptability is a prized skill in any industry. Employers often seek employees that have the ability to embrace change, quickly learn new skills, and thrive in dynamic work environments. This is a major super power!” — Ash Ayvar, a career mentor at Pathrise.
Below are questions designed to help the interviewer determine whether you can handle situations that may only sometimes be ideal. Here, you should demonstrate your problem-solving skills and ability to develop alternative solutions.
- Tell us how you’ve dealt with unexpected deadlines or project scope changes.
- Describe the project that you had the most trouble with. What would you have done differently?
- What did you do when the requirement from the stakeholder was vague?
- How do you stay organized?
- How do you work with conflicting priorities?
Question 5 is a situation that comes up regularly for technology professionals. Lean into your problem-solving skills when answering this question. You want to demonstrate confidence in your ability to handle stress and come through for the organization. Here’s an example of how to answer the question:
I’ve always prided myself on being able to handle different types of security projects. One example I can think of is when I had to fix some issues with one of our network firewalls. At the same time, I was asked to review potential security vulnerabilities posed by a third-party API popular among developers.
Because both situations could have opened the door to a security breach, both needed to be handled promptly. I budgeted enough weekly hours for each issue and informed my supervisors of my progress. Once I found a solution, I tested it thoroughly before signing off on each fix.
You don’t have to make yourself sound superhuman. However, you want to highlight your ability to manage stress and not become overwhelmed by your position. Interviewers should be confident in your ability to handle what the job environment might throw at you.
How do you answer behavioral interview questions about time management?
Time management skills are essential for professionals, especially in tech. Your productivity depends on your ability to manage time effectively. The interviewer will be looking for you to demonstrate that you can deliver projects on time and work efficiently.
Try differentiating how you will handle your tasks daily versus how you will plan for the future. You want to show that you can think about how to balance your work priorities in the short and long term. Hopefully, the interviewer will pick up on your ability to handle deadlines in a professional environment.
Here are some questions you might face in a tech interview related to your time management abilities.
- If there was one obstacle or issue that you could foresee that might prevent you from hitting a deadline, what would it be?
- Tell me about a time you went beyond what was expected.
- If you know two improvements need to be made but can only make one, how would you prioritize?
- What do you do when you are procrastinating?
- Talk about a time when you had multiple requests from different people in the company. How did you handle them?
Professionals often have to manage many tasks at once. Your interviewer may ask you a question like No. 5 to judge how well you handle that type of situation. Below is an example response:
I like creating a to-do list of the tasks I want to complete each day. For long-term projects, I might set this up at the beginning of the week while leaving some flexibility for anything unexpected. If I need information from a resource, I plan meetings and write out my questions to ensure I have what I need to complete my work.
I used this method successfully when working as an intern. It helped me manage priority shifts as my team members assigned me different tasks. I also start the day by reading and responding to emails to ensure I’m caught up on the current state of various projects.
This is just one example of how you can incorporate your response to past situations into answering time management questions. It’s always good to have various interview questions and answers prepared related to time management.
How do you answer behavioral interview questions about communication?
Communication is critical when working with a team, especially in the fast-paced tech environment. Your ability to communicate will also affect your ability to thrive and move up within the organization. That’s why it’s likely your tech interview questions will include at least one about communication.
The interviewer will want you to show your willingness to build rapport with your coworkers. They may also ask you to do a presentation related to a project. Good communication is essential to creating a healthy work environment. Strong communication skills are easily one of the most important skills a person can have. Communication is critical for professionals to collaborate effectively and convey complex ideas.
Below are some questions you might face during a tech interview related to your communication abilities.
- How do you defend your opinion to team members and stakeholders?
- How would you handle a situation where you were getting a lot of negative feedback in the middle of a presentation?
- How do you make a case for your vision and opinion?
- What advice would you give someone younger than you who is trying to come up in the field?
- What do you do if you disagree with your boss?
Question 1 can be tricky. It can feel intimidating to step in and offer your opinion as a new employee, especially when working with people who have been with the company for years. Your answer needs to demonstrate your confidence in your ability while still being respectful to others who may not agree with your take on a situation.
Below is an example of how you might respond to question 1.
I’m always mindful of the reality that others may disagree with me. If I’m passionate about an idea, I make sure to have facts to support my position. For example, I am a devotee of the .NET framework, and I know Java programmers who feel the same way about that language. I often develop a proposition involving that platform, but I know I need to be open to using something different if it’s the best fit for a project. Ideally, any debate ends with us creating a resolution that makes everyone happy.
Your interview is the best time to demonstrate your communication skills. You want to impress upon the interviewer your ability to define what you stand for and why you would be the right fit for the company.
How do you answer behavioral interview questions about motivation and values?
Finding people with the skills necessary to fill a job is one thing, but cultural fit is another. But interviewers are seeking candidates who align with the company values and are motivated to make the organization the best it can be. That’s where tech interview questions about motivation and values come in.
Companies want someone enthusiastic about their position and whose morals and professional standards match the workplace. The questions may be broad or specific to a situation. Interviewers typically want to hear you talk about a real-world scenario that requires you to showcase certain characteristics.
Below are some questions you might encounter regarding motivation and values during your tech interview.
- What was the biggest takeaway from your current job that you’ll carry throughout your career?
- Why do you want to change jobs? Why now?
- Talk about your approach to solving complex problems.
- Do you find that you often get overwhelmed at work? How do you combat that?
- Who has influenced you in your career?
If you’re in the middle of switching jobs, your interviewer may ask you a question like No. 2. Instead of diving into the minutiae of your reasons for leaving your previous position, frame your desire to move forward positively.
I’m always looking to use the skills I’ve learned. Though I appreciate everything I’ve learned in my current (past) position, I’m ready to expand how I apply my knowledge. I’ve been a systems analyst for many years, and it’s made me curious to learn more about programming. I’m comfortable enough with my new skills to look for jobs that let me expand into that area.
You should try to remain as optimistic as you can about applying for new jobs. Try to highlight how your desire to change companies is related to your long-term career goals. That shows you’re considering your professional future and are interested in moving forward with a company that offers growth opportunities.
Best Practices for Managing Behavioral Interview Questions
Some tech companies require you to go through multiple behavioral interviews. They want to be sure they’re bringing in a candidate with the right attitude and skills to make them successful. To prepare for multiple rounds, here are some best practices for acing behavioral interview questions.
1. Understand the interview structure
Behavioral interviews usually have a similar structure. You start by introducing yourself. From there, you and the interviewer go through your resume. They’ll want to know why you’re interested in their company and ask specific questions. It’s always good to have a prepared pitch covering your education, experience, and project experience related to the job position.
The first few minutes of an interview can set the entire tone. Interviewers often begin to form an assumption at the onset, so really focusing on crafting your pitch can be the difference of engaging your audience or not.
Try to stick to a specific framework when discussing your reasons for applying to the organization. Start by discussing the company’s mission and values. Make it clear you’ve done your research by mentioning specific initiatives they’re involved in. Avoid talking about salary expectations and perks. Keep the focus on the company.
2. Provide specifics
While you don’t want to be abrupt in your responses, try to keep your answers from running long. Focus on providing hard numbers, context, and why you made past decisions. You can also talk about frameworks you prefer, how you like to learn new skills, and examples of how you’ve applied them.
3. Use “I” and “we”
Try to use a good mix of “I” and “we” when responding to questions. Use “I” when discussing your responsibilities with other jobs. Switch to “we” when going over anything you worked on as a team member. You want to show that you’re willing to give credit where it’s due for those overall accomplishments.
Using “I” too much may give the impression that you don’t always work well with others. However, you also want to ensure you give yourself credit for your contributions to a project.
4. Remain focused
Make sure you provide an answer to the question presented. You want to avoid going off on a tangent or adding unnecessary information. That makes your answers run long, which risks losing the interviewer’s attention. Keep your answers focused while still providing the details needed to help the interviewer make a hiring decision.
Be sure to follow a structure or process for answering questions in order to answer questions intentionally and leave a positive impact. One of our career mentor’s, Ash Ayvar, recommends “answering with SAR: a brief summary of the situation, the action taken in the scenario and the result. Make sure you understand the question being asked, you can repeat the question back and share your understanding of it to be sure all while remaining positive, highlighting relevant skills and being engaged in your narrative.”
For example, you might respond to a question about past accomplishments as follows:
I implemented three core features for a business web application. That included revamping the landing page, updating the platforms through which you could share content on social media, and adding a comment area. I’m happy to discuss this in more detail if you’d like.
5. Avoid using negative language
Use the interview to focus on the positives of hiring you. Try not to dwell on past missed opportunities or situations where things didn’t turn out as you’d hoped. Avoid using overly pessimistic words like “failed” or describing yourself or past team members as stupid or idiotic. You want to present yourself as credible, professional, and willing to do what it takes to maintain a positive working environment. Negative language or undertones can leave a lasting impression on interviewers, so it’s best to always lean towards a positive summary instead.
Considering the current job market, it’s crucial to seek guidance and support from your network in order to maximize your chances of success. Partnering with a career coaching program like Pathrise can be the missing piece in helping get you to your next career.
Pathrise works with students and young professionals one-on-one to help them accelerate their careers and land their dream job in technology. Our tips and guidance have led to an 80% increase in interviewing success for program participants.
If you’re interested in more preparation to answer the 25 behavioral interview questions on our list or others you might face, become a Pathrise fellow to start working with one of our advisors.