Behavioral Based Interview Questions
Competency Areas:

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Consumer Orientation
  • Decision Making
  • Innovative Thinking
  • Leadership
  • Results Focused
  • Leads and Manages People (for people managers)

Prepping for an Interview

Prepare to Win!

Do your homework

  • Research the company website. Know: what the company does, about the people who you will meet, who is their competition, what is the position….print off relevant information, highlight points of interests. Put this in your portfolio with prepared questions. (see below)
  • Have the address, directions, phone numbers for the interview

4 A’s to Interviewing:

1. Appearance – fair or not, in face-to-face interviews everyone remembers your initial presentation

  • Dress:   Conservative – Conservative – Conservative
  • Wear a suit (navy blue, black, dark conservative colors with light colored blouse/shirt), closed-toed shoes and socks/hose
  • Never wear perfume/colognes or scented lotions (Could be allergic)
  • Light make-up and nail polish
  • Conservative jewelry
  • If you smoke, avoid smoking on the way to your interview
  • Take your portfolio with notepad and pen for notes and a couple of clean neat copies of your resume
  • Be punctual! Arrive 10 minutes early
  • Fill out application neatly and completely—do not write “see resume”
  • Write “flexible” or “open” where asking for desired money or position

2. Attitude –

  • ……is everything!
  • Firm, professional handshake; eye contact, relax and be you!
  • Be positive –  don’t say ANYTHING negative
  • Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses (Demonstrated ability to learn quickly and desire to grow and develop your skills)
  • Smile and speak clearly and slowly when answering questions
  • Do not speak poorly of any person or company

3.  Aptitude –

  • Identify skills and experience that the interviewer is seeking, then draw parallel examples from your past experience and/or skills
  • Speak to your accomplishments. If you work on a team, speak of your team’s accomplishments AND yours too. This is not the time to be modest.

4.  Ask Pre-prepared Questions –

  • Ask interviewer how long they have been there- what attracted them to the company and why they like working there.
  • Do not talk about money (50/50 chance of quoting too low or too high), vacation, or benefits
  • If the hiring manager pursues a money discussion with you, state your current earnings and that you are open to a fair offer based on your skills and your experience
  • Ask proactive questions:  recruiter will help you with targeted questions
  • “What can I do to immediately make a difference and make a positive impact on your team?”
  • “What are the most critical projects or issues that you would like me to tackle when I start in this position?”
  • “Tell me about your best employee”
  • How can I most significantly impact the company’s performance in this role?
  • I noticed on your website that you acquired a company.  Are you in an acquisition mode and looking to acquisitions to help you expand your market share?
  • What do you feel are the greatest challenges to your company
  • What are the company’s future growth plans?
  • What do you personally feel is the company’s market edge?
  • What do you feel most distinguishes this company from its competitors?
  • What’s the common denominator of the most successful person you have had in this role?
  • What are the first year’s goals for this position?
  • What obstacles do you see that could stop me from meeting these goals?
  • If you had to pick three qualities you viewed as crucial for success in this position, what would they be?
  • How did you reach your current position in the organization?
  • What do you find most satisfying about your job? Most frustrating?
  • What does it mean to be successful in this organization?

5.  Ask for the job –

  • Often times the difference between you getting an offer and someone else getting it is who asked for the job!!
  • Vocalize your interest (examples)
  • “I’m very excited!  Do you feel I have the qualifications that you are seeking?”
  • “I am confident that I’m the right person for this job for these two reasons…….”
  • “Do you have any concerns about my ability to do a superior job for you? Is there anything about my background or skills that may concern you?”
  • “What is the next step in the process?”

When You Leave:

  • Be sure to get business cards from everyone you meet.
  • Write individual “Thank You (email or card) to each person with whom you have met.
  • Call me within 15 minutes of leaving your interview

Be prepared to make a decision:

Yes, I want this job!” or  “Yes, I want to go to the next step!”


No, this is not the right opportunity for me.”


  • Take the Recruiter’s telephone numbers with you. They should be your first call upon leaving the interview.
  • Call as soon as you are finished or if anything happens on the way; call their cell phone if provided for non-business hours. 

You should be prepared to answer the following questions.

Most should be answered in 30-45 seconds.  Brevity helps ensure you stay to the point of the question, and avoid wandering.  

  • Tell me about yourself.  (This question is an exception to answer rule and may stretch to 2-3 minutes) – might give brief family and/or geographic context; or start with your college – why selected college and major, honors, awards,, then what lead you to the food industry; talk about your career progression.  Cover why were you attracted to your present position and company, which takes you to where you are today.
  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • How are you qualified for this position?
  • What skills do you have that will benefit our company? (review critical requirements of the role for which you are a candidate?
  • What have you done in your past positions?
  • Why did you leave your last position? (or why are you leaving)
  • Why were you terminated from your last position?  (if applicable)
  • Why have you been out of work so long?  (if applicable)
  • How did you progress to your current position?
  • What are your strengths? (3-4 professional, or a mix of professional and personal)
  • What are your weaknesses (cite 1, and how you compensate for it, have a 2nd in mind)
  • What is your management style (if for a people-management role)?
  • Tell me about your experience managing multiple projects and deadlines.
  • Tell me about your experience dealing customers
  • Tell me about your ability to influence others.  Give examples.
  • How would you describe your communication and presentation skills?
  • Are you a creative person?  Give me an example of your creativity.
  • What are your three greatest career accomplishments?
  • How do you work under pressure?
  • How you ever failed?  Tell me about it.
  • What are your short-term goals?  Long-term?
  • Answering a question about compensation, in your own words say – “if I am the individual you select for this position, I’m confident you will offer me an acceptable, fair market offer.”  If asked a second time respond with matter-of-fact explanation of current compensation,  “Here’s where I am at present and I’m sure you offer will reflect my value in the marketplace.”
  • What type of compensation are you expecting?  Ditto above.
  • How many weeks vacation do you have?

Story Answers

Prepare story answers to certain questions (such as 15-20).  Use the “SAR” method: Situation, Action, Result.  To prepare your story answers, divide a sheet of paper into 3 columns and label, from left to right, Situation, Action, Result.  Then, write your story, allotting 15 seconds of speaking time for each section.

Asking to Move Forward

A telephone interview will last 30-60 minutes.  About 3/4 of the way through the interview, or if you sense things are drawing to a close, find the appropriate place to ask this question:  “________, I like what I’m hearing about this position and the company; is there anything thus far that would prevent me from progressing to the next level in the interview process?”  (put this in your own words).  It is a very powerful question that allows you to overcome any objections or questions the interviewer may have.

Final words:  

  • Be concise when developing story answers  – use SAR (Situation, Action, Result)
  • Know your information.
  • Close properly
  • Ask good, sound business questions.


Phone Interviewing

Employers use telephone interviews as a way of identifying and recruiting candidates for employment. Phone interviews are often used to screen candidates in order to narrow the pool of applicants who will be invited for in-person interviews. They are also used as a way to minimize the expenses involved in interviewing out-of-town candidates.

While you’re actively job searching, it’s important to be prepared for a phone interview on a moment’s notice. You never know when a recruiter or a networking contact might call and ask if you have a few minutes to talk.

Be Prepared to Interview

Prepare for a phone interview just as you would for a regular interview. Compile a list of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as a list of answers to typical phone interview questions. In addition, plan on being prepared for a phone conversation about your background and skills.

  • Keep your resume in clear view, on the top of your desk, or tape it to the wall near the phone, so it’s at your fingertips when you need to answer questions.
  • Have a short list of your accomplishments available to review.
  • Have a pen and paper handy for note taking.
  • Turn call-waiting off so your call isn’t interrupted.
  • If the time isn’t convenient, ask if you could talk at another time and suggest some alternatives.
  • Clear the room – evict the kids and the pets. Turn off the stereo and the TV. Close the door.
  • Unless you’re sure your cell phone service is going to be perfect, consider using a landline rather than your cell phone to avoid a dropped call or static on the line.

Practice Interviewing

Talking on the phone isn’t as easy as it seems. I’ve always found it’s helpful to practice. Have a friend or family member conduct a mock interview and tape record it so you can see how you sound over the phone. Any cassette recorder will work. You’ll be able to hear your “ums” and “uhs” and “okays” and you can practice reducing them from your conversational speech. Also rehearse answers to those typical questions you’ll be asked.

During the Phone Interview

  • Don’t smoke, chew gum, eat, or drink.
  • Do keep a glass of water handy, in case you need to wet your mouth.
  • Smile. Smiling will project a positive image to the listener and will change the tone of your voice.
  • Speak slowly and enunciate clearly.
  • Use the person’s title (Mr. or Ms. and their last name.) Only use a first name if they ask you to.
  • Don’t interrupt the interviewer.
  • Take your time – it’s perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts.
  • Give short answers.
  • Remember your goal is to set up a face-to-face interview. After you thank the interviewer ask if it would be possible to meet in person.

After the Interview:

  • Take notes about what you were asked and how you answered.
  • Remember to say “thank you.” Follow with a thank you note which reiterates your interest in the job.


5 Questions Great Job Candidates Ask:

Many of the questions potential new hires ask are throwaways. But not these. Be honest. Raise your hand if you feel the part of the job interview where you ask the candidate, “Do you have any questions for me?” is almost always a waste of time.

Thought so.

The problem is most candidates don’t actually care about your answers; they just hope to make themselves look good by asking “smart” questions. To them, what they ask is more important than how you answer.

Great candidates ask questions they want answered because they’re evaluating you, your company–and whether they really want to work for you.

Here are five questions great candidates ask:

1. What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?

Great candidates want to hit the ground running. They don’t want to spend weeks or months “getting to know the organization.”

They want to make a difference–right away.

2. What are the common attributes of your top performers?

Great candidates also want to be great long-term employees. Every organization is different, and so are the key qualities of top performers in those organizations.

Maybe your top performers work longer hours. Maybe creativity is more important than methodology. Maybe constantly landing new customers in new markets is more important than building long-term customer relationships. Maybe it’s a willingness to spend the same amount of time educating an entry-level customer as helping an enthusiast who wants high-end equipment.

Great candidates want to know, because 1) they want to know if they fit, and 2) if they do fit, they want to be a top performer.

3. What are a few things that really drive results for the company?

Employees are investments, and every employee should generate a positive return on his or her salary. (Otherwise why are they on the payroll?)

In every job some activities make a bigger difference than others. You need your HR folks to fill job openings… but what you really want is for HR to find the right candidates because that results in higher retention rates, lower training costs, and better overall productivity.

You need your service techs to perform effective repairs… but what you really want is for those techs to identify ways to solve problems and provide other benefits–in short, to generate additional sales.

Great candidates want to know what truly makes a difference. They know helping the company succeed means they succeed as well.

4. What do employees do in their spare time?

Happy employees 1) like what they do and 2) like the people they work with.

Granted this is a tough question to answer. Unless the company is really small, all any interviewer can do is speak in generalities.

What’s important is that the candidate wants to make sure they have a reasonable chance of fitting in–because great job candidates usually have options.

5. How do you plan to deal with…?

Every business faces a major challenge: technological changes, competitors entering the market, shifting economic trends… there’s rarely a Warren Buffett moat protecting a small business.

So while a candidate may see your company as a stepping-stone, they still hope for growth and advancement… and if they do eventually leave, they want it to be on their terms and not because you were forced out of business.

Say I’m interviewing for a position at your bike shop. Another shop is opening less than a mile away: How do you plan to deal with the new competitor? Or you run a poultry farm (a huge industry in my area): What will you do to deal with rising feed costs?

A great candidate doesn’t just want to know what you think; they want to know what you plan to do–and how they will fit into those plans