- How to answer, “Tell me about yourself.”
- How to answer, “Talk about a conflict you’ve had at work.”
- How to answer, “Share an example of a time you had to motivate coworkers.”
When applying for tech jobs, many people spend their time worrying about the technical questions, leaving them with no time or energy for much else. But, with so many people in the same fields, all with similar backgrounds, often culture fit is the factor that decides whether or not you get a job.
Part of the preparation for your behavioral interviews should be researching the company and getting a good understanding of their mission, values, culture, and products. We work with hundreds of people on all aspects of their job search, including technical and behavioral interview preparation. Through this work, we have been able to determine common behavioral questions that you can practice responding to before you even meet with the interviewer.
1. Tell me about yourself.
It is very likely that all of your interviews will start with the interviewer asking you to introduce yourself. That means you should 100% have your elevator pitch prepared. The research you did on their mission and values will help you because you want to connect your experience to their goals, so they know you are a good fit for the culture.
When you prepare your elevator pitch, give a high-level recap of your experience, starting with your education and moving through past positions and projects. Highlight the impact you made as much as you can. When you are concluding, show how you connect to their mission. For example, “Building a safer Internet is something that is really important to me and it’s exciting to see that Google feels the same way.”
For an elevator pitch template and more information on how to research the company, review our guide to writing a strong elevator pitch.
2. Talk about a conflict you’ve had at work and how it was resolved
The best way to respond to a question like this is to utilize the STAR method. This is a structure that helps keep you on track in your response so that you avoid rambling. It also helps you ensure that you remain positive, even when you are talking about a difficult situation.
- S = Situation
- This is the introduction to your response where you describe the premise of the question you were asked.
- “At my last position, I really enjoyed working with my team and my supervisor. I learned so much from them because it was my first job out of college and I really felt like I was able to grow professionally. Thinking back on a conflict, though, I do remember a time when I was working on a cross-disciplinary team with software engineers, product managers, and designers.”
- T = Target/Task
- This is where you determine the goal of the question and bring it to light.
- “When our team met for the first time, everyone was excited to work on the project, which was to completely revamp our company’s app. But, there was a lack of leadership in the room and a lot of strong voices led to some chaos and conflict.”
- A = Action
- What did you actually do to solve the initial problem?
- “Realizing that we were not getting anywhere with everyone talking over one another, I decided the best thing to do would be to establish some processes that would help us make more informed decisions. I brought out the whiteboard and started writing down everyone’s ideas.”
- R = Result
- This is the conclusion of your response, where you tell the interviewer what you achieved.
- “When all of the ideas were in front of us, we were able to organize ourselves and vote for them by priority and importance. By bringing the volume in the room down and bringing everyone’s ideas to an equal playing field (the whiteboard), the team was able to make a decision in 30 minutes, versus the hour and a half we had spent “brainstorming” before.”
3. Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers
The key to answering this question successfully is to go beyond what they asked. If you just respond with a story about offering encouraging words to a coworker, you are not really going to impress your interviewer.
Instead, you can mention that you motivated them verbally, but you should also show that you helped them out through actions. Maybe they were falling behind on their work and you picked up some of their slack or maybe they were unsure of an answer in a meeting and you jumped in to help out. This is a great time to highlight that you are a team player. In fact, if you are asked this question at LinkedIn, you can connect it to their company value of “Relationships matter.” This shows that you are a good fit with the company culture as well.
If you keep these tips and response structures in mind when you prepare for your behavioral interviews, you will be able to go in with confidence and find success in your sessions.
Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. With these tips and guidance, we’ve seen interview scores double for our fellows in the program.
If you want to work with any of our mentors 1-on-1 to get help with your interviews or with any other aspect of the job search, become a Pathrise fellow.