The job seeker's guide to acing behavioural interviews

The job seeker's guide to acing behavioural interviews
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 26 June, 2024

As you start your job hunt in Singapore, it is key to see how much behavioural interview questions matter. Hiring managers at top MNCs and local enterprises here use them frequently to gain insights into your past experiences and behaviours. 

Knowing how to answer these questions well can significantly improve your chances of getting hired. It can also boost your confidence during the interview process and help you make a good impression on the hiring manager. 

Here is what we will cover:

What are behavioural interview questions? 

Interviewers use behavioural job interview questions to learn about a job seeker's thought process. Many interviewers believe that past behaviour is a good indicator of future performance. These questions allow them to determine your suitability for the role and make informed hiring decisions.

Behavioural questions offer insights into how you would handle stress. They also show how you would solve problems and stay focused at work. They help the hiring manager see if you have the emotional intelligence to deal with a difficult client or excel in a leadership role. Traditional interview questions focus on hypothetical scenarios and general skills. However, behavioural questions ask for specific examples. 

woman interviewer

Examples of behavioural questions based on situations 

Unlike traditional interview questions, behavioral inquiries focus on your core competencies. These include conflict resolution, decision-making, leadership, time management, communication skills, and problem-solving abilities. 

Let us explore the most common questions hiring managers ask, along with example responses, so that you can practice your responses.

Questions on managing conflict

Question: Describe a scenario where you resolved a workplace conflict, possibly involving multicultural team dynamics, common in Singapore's diverse work environment. 

Example answer: "In my last job, I disagreed with my research team regarding priorities in a long-term project. I facilitated a discussion, ensuring that I actively listened to each team member’s concerns, a practice highly regarded in the collaborative work culture of Singapore.

Questions on handling failures and mistakes

Question:  Explain how you handled tough decisions in a high-pressure environment?

Example answer: "In my previous company, some unforeseen challenges arose that threatened to push our timeline back during a critical project phase. Recognising the situation's urgency, I spoke to the management team, weighed potential risks, and decided to change our approach. While it was a tough decision, we overcame the obstacles and ensured project success."

Question: Give me an example of when you were unsure how to perform a project. How did you handle it?

Example answer: "Early in my working life, I led a marketing campaign and was not sure about the target audience or competition. I researched our target market, competitors, and industry trends to address this. I also spoke to my colleagues and manager to get various insights. I then developed a strategic plan to meet our objectives."

Question: Have you failed at an important task before? What did you learn from it?

Example answer: "At my first job, I was responsible for coordinating an event. Despite weeks of planning and preparation, the event faced unforeseen logistical challenges. This resulted in a delay, and we did not meet our client's expectations. However, I recognised there was an opportunity to grow from this. After the event, I worked out the cause and how to avoid it in the future."

Questions on time management

Question: Give us an example of when you had to juggle multiple projects at different stages. How did you manage your time?

Example answer: "I was responsible for overseeing multiple projects simultaneously. I prioritised tasks based on urgency and impact to manage my time effectively. I used project management tools to track progress and deadlines. I also regularly talked to everyone involved to manage expectations. With this approach, we completed the project on time."

Questions on leadership

Question: Share your leadership style and how it helped you lead a team in your previous role.

Example answer: "As a leader, I believe in creating a collaborative environment for the entire team. As a team manager at my previous company, I encouraged open communication, delegated responsibilities based on each team member's skill set, and provided mentorship and support. By promoting a culture of trust and accountability, I could inspire the team to achieve shared goals and deliver great results."

Questions on problem-solving skills

Question: Describe your process when you handle difficult situations.

Example answer: "When I encounter a problem, I take the time to understand the issue and brainstorm potential solutions. After choosing a solution, I monitor its progress closely and make changes based on direct feedback and circumstances. Proactivity in a challenging situation has effectively addressed many work issues."

Strategies for answering behavioural interview questions 

Providing a good answer to a behavioural job interview question requires careful preparation. 

Here are some strategies that can help you structure your responses clearly:

Understand the job description

Begin by carefully reviewing the job description to identify the key competencies and attributes that align with what Singaporean employers typically expect. 

Research the company

Investigate the company's mission, core values, and corporate culture, focusing on aspects like community involvement and innovation, which Singapore-based firms highly value.

Reflect on past experiences

Reflect on significant achievements, challenges overcome, and lessons learned in your previous roles, especially those relevant to Singapore's dynamic and competitive job market.

Use the STAR method

Structure your responses using the STAR (situation, task, action, result) method:

  • Situation: Provide context by sharing an example of the specific project or scenario.
  • Task: Describe the focus of the task.
  • Action: Explain how you addressed the situation, highlighting your skills and decision-making process.
  • Result: Describe and summarise the outcomes or results of your actions, including any measurable achievements or lessons learned.

Practice your responses

Constantly practice your answers to common interview questions. You can also ask a friend to do a mock interview and give you feedback so that you can refine your response.

Prepare questions to ask

Prepare questions to ask the interviewer about the role, team dynamics, company culture, and future opportunities. This shows your interest and enthusiasm for the position.

Review and revise

Review your responses and refine them based on feedback and self-assessment. Aim to be authentic, confident, and professional during the interview process.

headhunter interviewing a candidate

10 common behavioural interview questions and answers 

Here are 10 common behavioural job interview questions with sample answers:

  1. Can you describe how you handled a challenging situation at work?
    ⁠Example answer:
    "In my previous job, unexpected delays threatened the company's deadline. I quickly organised a team meeting, assigned tasks based on each member's strengths, and checked in daily. We were able to hit the deadline without compromising quality."
  2. How do you handle stress and pressure?
    ⁠Example answer:
    "During high-pressure situations, I break tasks into small parts and take regular breaks to maintain focus. For example, during a critical product launch in my previous company, I created a detailed plan, set clear goals, and regularly communicated with everyone to keep them on track."
  3. Give an example of a goal you reached and how you achieved it
    ⁠Example answer:
    "I wanted to improve my team's efficiency by 20%. Through analysing our processes, automation, and regular team reviews, we managed a 25% increase in efficiency."
  4. Describe a decision you made that was unpopular and how you handled implementing it
    ⁠Example answer:
    "I initially faced resistance once when I introduced complex software. I organised regular training sessions to explain how the software worked. After a few sessions, the team realised how the new system would benefit our work process."
  5. Describe how you work under pressure
    ⁠Example answer:
    "I usually try to maintain clarity and calm by creating detailed plans and setting goals. Keeping communication channels open also helps to solve problems quickly."
  6. Describe a time when you had to go above and beyond your regular duties
    ⁠Example answer:
    "When a team member fell ill before a deadline, I took over their responsibilities. I worked extra hours and coordinated efforts to meet targets without compromising quality."
  7. Have you ever dealt with a difficult team member? How did you handle it?
    ⁠Example answer:
    "Yes, there was a team member who frequently missed deadlines. After speaking privately and adjusting their workload, we improved their performance and enhanced team dynamics."
  8. Provide an example of a time when you disagreed with your supervisor
    ⁠Example answer:
    "In a previous junior role, my supervisor and I disagreed on a marketing strategy. I researched and suggested a trial run that led to a strategy change, helping to increase leads." 
  9. Give an example of how you set goals and achieve them
    ⁠Example answer:
    "I once set a goal to increase sales by 10%. Through constant feedback, training, and new systems, we achieved a 15% increase in sales."
  10. Describe a time you failed. How did you handle it?
    ⁠Example answer:
    "In my first job, I missed an important client deadline, which improved my time management and accountability. Taking responsibility, resetting expectations, and focusing on my work helped me prevent future failures."

Common mistakes when answering behavioural interview questions 

Try to give a positive impression by avoiding the following common mistakes job seekers make when answering behavioural questions:

  • Being vague: Avoid broad, unspecific answers. Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to provide detailed examples that clearly illustrate your capabilities and include data or results when possible.
  • Focusing solely on success: While showcasing your accomplishments is important, ignoring your past challenges may seem evasive. Be honest about areas where you have faced difficulties, emphasising what you learned and how you have improved.
  • Negativity and blaming: Speaking negatively about past experiences or colleagues can leave a poor impression. Keep your tone positive and focus on what you have done to find solutions or improve situations.
  • Rambling and going off-track: Long-winded responses can cause you to stray from the main point. Keep your answers focused and concise, directly addressing the question asked.
  • Lacking authenticity: Responses that sound rehearsed can come across as insincere. Practice delivering your answers naturally and ensure they reflect your true experiences.
  • Missing the link to the job: It is crucial to connect your answers to the job requirements you're applying for. Customise your responses to demonstrate that you possess the specific skills and qualities the employer seeks.

Bottom Line 

Preparing thoroughly, remaining authentic, and employing a tactical mindset is essential to succeed in behavioural job interviews. You can highlight your qualifications and achievements by familiarising yourself with frequently asked questions. 

Such preparation equips you to confidently approach interviews, greatly improving your chances of impressing prospective employers in Singapore's competitive job market.


Here is a list of questions that job seekers commonly ask about behavioural interview questions:

  1. What are behavioural interview questions and why are they important in Singapore's job market?
    Behavioural interview questions are designed to assess a candidate's past behaviour in specific situations to predict their future performance. In Singapore's competitive job market, these questions help employers evaluate how you handle real-world scenarios and thus make informed decisions about your suitability for the role.
  2. What is the best way to prepare for behavioural interview questions?
    Preparing for behavioural interview questions involves several key steps — understanding the job, reflecting on the experience, practising your responses, seeking feedback from others, and doing plenty of research on the company.
  3. How can I use the STAR technique to answer behavioural interview questions
    The STAR technique is a structured approach for answering behavioural interview questions:
    Situation: Describe the specific situation, providing background information.
    Task: Give an example of the task and what you were trying to accomplish.
    Action: Outline your actions, focusing on your steps to achieve your objective. 
    Result: Summarise your actions' results and impact in measurable terms. 
    With the STAR method, you can structure your responses clearly and concisely, providing the interviewer with detailed examples of your skills and experiences.
  4. Can you provide examples of behavioural interview questions specific to leadership roles?

    Describe a scenario where you had to inspire a team under challenging circumstances. ⁠What strategies did you use, and what were the results?

    -Recall when you had to manage a disagreement or conflict among your team members.
    What actions did you take to mediate the situation?

    ⁠-Tell me about an instance where you faced a difficult decision affecting your team's direction. ⁠How did you arrive at your decision and communicate it to your team?

    ⁠-Explain a time when you led your team through organisational changes. ⁠How did you introduce these changes and what measures did you implement to facilitate adaptation?

    ⁠-Describe a situation where you needed to assign responsibilities effectively. ⁠How did you decide which tasks to delegate and to whom, ensuring the team's efficiency?
  1. How do I handle behavioural questions that focus on negative experiences or failures?
    When addressing behavioural questions about negative experiences or failures, it is important to approach them with openness, responsibility, and introspective insight. Recognise the event, admit your role, and concentrate on what you learned from the experience. Discuss how the failure contributed to your personal and professional development. Emphasise the measures you took to recover and the strategies you implemented to avoid future mistakes. This shows your ability to learn and adapt, which is highly valued in any professional setting.

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