10 Behavioral Interview Questions to Identify Top Talent


It’s no secret that great people are the foundation of great businesses. For long term matches, it’s essential to assess not just skills and qualifications, but also a potential employee cultural fit.

Soft skills are by definition non-technical skills that relate to how you work. They include how you interact with colleagues, solve problems, and manage your work. An excellent indicator of how a prospective hire will handle various situations that they may have to deal with is to utilize situational interview techniques. Situational or Behavioral interview questions are a proven technique that can help determine a person’s potential. By looking at a candidate’s past behavior, along with their relevant skills and experience, you’ll have a good idea if the person possesses both the experience as well as the qualities you’re looking for in your next hire.

To help you carry out successful interviews, we’ve categorized some of the top behavioral interview questions based on soft skills and characteristics commonly found in high-potential hires.

There are 4 primary areas to focus on when evaluating prospective employees. These include Adaptability, Leadership, Cultural Fit, & Collaboration.


 Adaptability is the ability to learn to be resourceful and learn new skills to meet the demands of evolving circumstances. Some organizations have been around for years and have a tried and true way of doing things, and primarily need someone to follow the rules. Other companies are experiencing high growth and require someone to be able to change hats and direction on a regular basis. It is important to know which situation a new hire will be coming into, in order to know how much weight you need to place on various characteristics.

It also should be noted even for 100 year old companies, the current pandemic has caused virtually every single company to re-evaluate how they do things, and we are quickly seeing which leadership teams have embraced innovative ways of doing things and are gaining market shares and which are stuck in their old ways of doing things and are fighting change. Therefore, it is always wise to evaluate a candidate’s ability to adapt to various situations. With no immediate end in sight of the current pandemic, adaptability has become a crucial skill in nearly every industry.

Popular questions include:

1) Describe a time when you were asked to do something you had never done before. What was your reaction?  What did you learn from the instance?

2) Tell us about a time when you had to take up a task that was outside your job description. How did you handle the situation?

For more seasoned candidates that have a longer work history, you can ask:

3) Describe a situation where you adapted to a colleague’s working style to achieve an objective. How did you manage?

4) Identify a time when you had to depart from an old way of doing things and opt for a new process, method, or technology. How did you handle the situation?


Research shows that organizations with exceptional leaders are 13 times more likely to outperform the competition. Candidates with strong leadership skills are better equipped to motivate, inspire, and uncover hidden potential in others.  Important questions include:

5) Tell us about a time when you were working as part of a team, and things didn’t go as planned? What was your role?  How was the situation resolved?

6) Give us an example of a situation when you needed to persuade someone to see things your way? How did you go about it?

Culture Fit

Diversity of thought and experience are essential factors that drive organizational growth.  At the same time, you want to make sure that their goals and values align with the company’s so you can ensure enhanced performance and better job satisfaction.  Relevant questions include:

7) In order of preference, what are the three most important things for you in a job?

8) Tell us something interesting about you that’s not on your resume.


 Collaborative contributors can work successfully with others and can gain insights from different perspectives to develop innovative solutions.  When screening for this skill, the questions should include:

9) Tell us about a time when you had to work with a difficult colleague to achieve a goal. How did you handle the interaction?  What was the outcome?

10) Describe your favorite experience when you were part of a team.


 Behavioral questions often require the candidate to think about past experiences and recollect their thoughts.  It’s essential to give the candidate some time to structure their response and not get overwhelmed by the question.

When they are ready to respond, use the STAR technique to ensure you get maximum information about the situation. Ask candidates to describe the Situation, Task, Action, and Result in detail.  You can ask further questions to clarify responses and understand the candidate better.

Looking for High-Quality Candidates?  

As a leading executive recruiting agency in the United States since 1999, International Search Consultants offers executive recruiting services that ensure your team has access to top talent with industry specific experience and a documented history of success.

Our team of dedicated Executive Recruiters starts by determining your hiring needs and then designs a customized executive recruiting campaign that  is guaranteed to strategically target & deliver top talent to your interview table.

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Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is President of International Search Consultants and can be reached at 888-866-7276 or at .

Carolyn McClendon is a Senior Executive Recruiter with ISC and can be reached 888-974-0086 or at .