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Top 15 Behavioral Interview Questions for Small Business Recruiting

small business interviewing

The interview process is critical to determining whether a potential candidate will be a good fit within your small business. One approach that is growing in popularity is the behavioral interview. Behavioral interview questions ask candidates to discuss how they performed in specific past situations, with the premise that this will demonstrate how they will perform in the future. According to a recent study, Behavioral interviewing is said to be 55 percent predictive of future on-the-job behavior, while traditional interviewing is only 10 percent predictive. Terry Fitzwater, author of Behavior-Based Interviewing, claims “If an individual has a track record of success somewhere in their past, the chances are very good that the individual will carry that success with him or her to the next employer.”

We’ve provided the top 15 behavioral interview questions for you to consider asking candidates. We’ve broken these down based on category so you can determine which are most important to the specific role that you are hoping to fill.


If teamwork is an important aspect of the open position, ask these questions to evaluate the candidates’ ability to work with others under challenging circumstances:

  1. Talk about a time when you had to work closely with someone whose personality was very different from yours.
  2. Give me an example of a time you faced a conflict while working with a team. How did you handle that?
  3. Describe a time when you struggled to build a relationship with someone important. How did you eventually overcome that?
  4. We all make mistakes we wish we could take back. Tell me about a time you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.
  5. Tell me about a time you needed to get information from someone who wasn’t very responsive. What did you do?

Ability to Adapt

The following questions will help you understand the interviewee’s flexibility and ability to respond to conflict at work:

  1. Tell me about a time you were under a lot of pressure. What was going on, and how did you get through it?
  2. Describe a time when your team or company was undergoing some change. How did that impact you, and how did you adapt?
  3. Tell me about the first job you’ve ever had. What did you do to learn the ropes?
  4. Give me an example of a time when you had to think on your feet to delicately remove yourself from a difficult or awkward situation.
  5. Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with this situation?

Motivation and Values

These questions will help you learn what values your candidate finds important, and what motivates them:

  1. Tell me about your proudest professional accomplishment.
  2. Describe a time when you saw a problem and took the initiative to correct it rather than waiting for someone else to do it.
  3. Tell me about a time when you worked under close supervision or extremely loose supervision. How did you handle that?
  4. Give me an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or difficult about it?
  5. Tell me about a time you were dissatisfied in your work. What could have been done to make it better?

Communication Skills

If communication is important to this role, it’s important to ask these questions that reveal your candidates’ ability to communicate:

  1. Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way at work.
  2. Describe a time when you were the resident technical expert. What did you do to make sure everyone was able to understand you?
  3. Tell me about a time when you had to rely on written communication to get your ideas across to your team.
  4. Give me an example of a time when you had to explain something fairly complex to a frustrated client. How did you handle this delicate situation?
  5. Tell me about a successful presentation you gave and why you think it was a hit.

Behavioral interviews have a proven success rate, and will help you gain a better understanding of the skills, personality, and work ethic of candidates. You can even try mixing a few of these questions into traditional interviews to see how they work for you.

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