job interviews: how to ace behavioural questions

Got a job interview coming up? First of all, congratulations! Doing your research is a great way to prepare, but you might be curious about certain behavioural questions you might be asked.

Let’s outline what behaviour questions are and how to prepare for them, along with a couple of useful examples.

What are behavioural questions?

Making smart, considered decisions when facing challenges at work is an important skill required for most jobs. Different from other common questions in a job interview, behavioural questions help employers understand how you’d make these decisions and assess the skills that are sometimes tricky to communicate on a written application.

Most interviewers look for skills in:

  • Problem-solving
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Adaptability


How to prepare for behavioural questions

Interviews make most people feel nervous or stressed. You can prepare yourself by understanding how these questions are structured and how to answer them.

Behavioural questions typically ask you to describe a previous situation at work or at school where you faced a specific challenge. For instance, when you were challenged and how you faced that challenge.

When responding to behavioural questions, we suggest following the STAR structure: situation, task, action and result.

  • Situation: Describe the situation you were in.
  • Task: Explain what your task or goal was in that situation.
  • Action: Describe the actions you took to achieve your task or goal.
  • Result: Explain the outcome of your actions.

Using this method can help you structure your answers clearly while highlighting some of those skills we mentioned above.


Examples of behavioural questions and answers

The magic of STAR is that once you’ve practised a few responses, you may feel more comfortable improvising your answers for any unexpected questions.

Here are a couple of examples of behavioural questions and answers:

  • Situation: “During my time at Company Inc., I was working on an article for a big project. One co-worker gave feedback that I didn’t think was correct.”
  • Task: “The article had to be submitted within a tight deadline and meet the key criteria outlined.”
  • Action: “I took the initiative to set up a quick call with the co-worker to discuss the brief and confirm the requirements. We were then able to confirm the feedback and brainstorm ways to make it even better.”
  • Result: “As a result of our collaboration, we were able to complete the article on time and it ended up as one of the top five performing articles that year.”
  • Situation: “In my previous job, I had to deal with unexpected changes in my work schedule on a regular basis.”
  • Task: “My task was to ensure that I was still able to meet all my deadlines despite constant changes in priorities.”
  • Action: “I made sure to prioritise my tasks and create a new schedule that accommodated the changes. I also communicated with my manager and clients to inform them of the changes and ensure everyone was still on the same page.”
  • Result: “As a result of my proactive approach, I was able to meet all my deadlines and ensure that there were no negative impacts on my work.”

Common mistakes to avoid when answering behavioural questions

STAR works best when your answers are clear and positive.

  • Be specific: It’s important to be specific and talk about the most important details so your answer is unique and relevant for the role. Don’t get too lost in the details, but make sure you’re explaining the situation.
  • Leave the result to the end: Think of the result as the conclusion to your story. While it is important to get to the result, remember that your interviewer is looking at how you handled getting there.
  • Keep it positive: If your response talks about an issue you faced, aim to focus more on how you overcame it. If you couldn’t overcome it, at least describe what you learned through the experience, what you could have done differently and how this might apply to your new role.

What are the next steps? Think about your experience and possible scenarios you can discuss using the STAR method. Then, have a go at practising them!

Having STAR responses in your back pocket is a smart way to address key criteria in your interview — all while letting your personality shine.

Best of luck! We’re sure you’ll ace it. Need a bit more help with interview prep? Get to know headspace Work and Study to chat with a specialist.


The headspace Content Reference Group oversee and approve clinical resources made available on this website. 

Last reviewed July 2023.

Seek. (accessed 2023, June 8). Best answers to situational interview questions. Retrieved from

Seek. (accessed 2023, June 8). Here's how to ace behavioural interview questions. Retrieved from

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