Practice makes perfect and that’s why we’ve taken the time to outline a variety of behavioral interview questions for engineers. In this article, we’ll dive into what a behavioral interview is, the STAR method that is often used by interviewers during these interviews, best practices to consider during the interview, and example behavioral interview questions for engineers.
- What is a behavioral interview?
- What is the STAR method?
- Behavioral interview best practices to consider
- Example behavioral interview questions for engineers
What is a behavioral interview?
A behavioral-based interview is a technique that employers use to evaluate a candidate’s behavior in different scenarios in an attempt to gain a more accurate understanding of how they would react in the future. This tactic is used to help employers predict future behaviors based on past experiences.
What is the STAR method?
STAR is an acronym that stands for situation, task, action, and result. The STAR method is a technique that is often used by interviewers in an attempt to gather all relevant information pertaining to a specific skill required by a job. Unlike traditional interview methods, this technique is much more structured and prompts the interviewee to respond to behavioral-based interview questions by describing or discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation pertaining to the skill the interviewer is attempting to understand.
The STAR method is defined as follows:
As the interviewer, you’ll attempt to gain an in-depth understanding of a situation in which you applied the applicable skill. As the interviewee, you’ll be expected to describe a situation in which you demonstrated the skill in question.
As the interviewer, you’ll want to gain an understanding of how the skill in question contributed to the end goal. As the interviewee, you’ll want to describe how you used the skill in question to achieve the end goal.
As the interviewer, you’ll want to gain an understanding of the actions that the interviewee took to address the situation at hand. As the interviewee, you’ll want to describe in great detail the actions you took to address the situation at hand. It’s important to be specific and describe what you actually did.
As the interviewer, you’ll want to formulate an understanding of the final outcome as well as what the interviewee accomplished. As the interviewee, you’ll want to make sure to keep the focus on you while highlighting exactly what you accomplished and learned. Remember, it’s important to always highlight the positives and refrain from using any negative commentary!
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Behavioral interview best practices to consider
When conducting a behavioral interview, it’s important to be clear, concise, and brief. While you need to consider brevity, it’s important to refrain from compromising the integrity of the interview. Conducting the interview in a way that is brief while keeping the integrity of the interview intact with methodical questions is key.
2Length of interview
Determining how long your behavioral interview should rely on a variety of factors. While you’ll want to keep your interview brief, you’ll also want to make sure you’ve covered all details in question while gaining an appropriate understanding of the candidate’s skills and behaviors while also determining how they may apply to future scenarios. Creating a meeting agenda that takes all talking points into consideration will aid exponentially when determining how long your behavioral interview should last.
3Ask for clarification
The main prerogative of a behavioral interview is to gain an in-depth understanding of how a candidate’s past experiences will shape their future behaviors. For this reason, it’s extremely important to ask for clarification if needed. If the candidate’s answer hasn’t provided you with enough context or enough detail to formulate your final conclusion, you should ask for further clarification.
Example behavioral interview questions for engineers
- For people management
- For project retrospective
- For workplace culture
- For professional development
- For problem-solving
1For people management
To be an excellent people manager, you need to possess a variety of different soft skills. In an attempt to identify if you possess the soft skills required to lead a team, the interviewer will want to ask questions that test your soft skills. While you answer these questions, you should demonstrate your willingness and ability to build, lead, and motivate teams.
People management question examples include:
- How do you recruit valuable teammates?
- How do you manage difficult conversations?
- How do you manage your team’s career growth?
- How do you address underperforming employees?
- How would you help someone who may have stayed at the same level for far too long progress in their career?
- Tell me about a difficult situation you handled with an employee. What went well and what could you have done differently?
2For project retrospective
As an engineer, you’ll be expected to take the lead on high-level projects. Oftentimes you’ll be provided with limited resources and will be faced with multiple conflicting responsibilities. As a result, the interviewer will want to pose questions that gauge how you would perform in similar scenarios in the future.
These questions will take a deep dive into your past experiences in hopes of uncovering information pertaining to past projects. The interviewer will want to understand the decisions you made, learn how you balanced conflicting responsibilities, and understand how you would manage problems in the future.
Project retrospective question examples include:
- Describe a software development project you led. What approach did you use?
- Describe the most technically complex project that you have worked on. What made it difficult?
- Tell me about a product or system you worked on. What problems did you face and what steps did you take to solve them?
3For workplace culture
Interviewers often want to identify whether or not you’ll fit within the company’s workplace culture. Whether that be emulating their values or having the power to thrive in a fast-paced environment, they’ll want to determine whether or not you’re cut out to work within the organization.
Workplace culture or culture fit question examples include:
- What values are important to you?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- Tell me about yourself. What do you value in the workplace?
- How would you describe the work environment at your current job/ previous role? Why did you like or dislike it?
4For professional development
Understanding what your professional goals are for the interviewer is extremely important. The interviewer will want to understand if they can provide what you’re looking for while also determining whether or not the role you’re interviewing for fits into your career trajectory. Being open and honest when asked these questions will help you and the interviewer understand whether or not the role on the table will be mutually beneficial for both parties.
5Professional development question examples include:
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
- How do you envision yourself progressing in your career?
- What steps have you taken in your career to lead you to where you are today?
- What professional development opportunities are important to you in the workplace?
- Did you take advantage of professional development opportunities at your former company?
5For problem solving
Having the ability to be an effective problem solver is imperative for engineers. As a result, the interviewer will want to identify a time in which you faced a monumental problem at work while unpacking what you did to solve or overcome the problem. During the interview, you’ll want to clearly explain a problem you faced while articulating the steps you took to overcome the problem.
Problem-solving questions include:
- Describe a problem you recently faced in the workplace. What steps did you take to solve it?
- Tell me about a time when you didn’t have what you needed to succeed in your role. What steps did you take to move forward?
- Tell me about a time when you reframed a problem. Can you define the problem? How did you shift your mindset to become more positive?
- Tell me about a time when you faced a challenge that may not have been within your wheelhouse. What steps did you take to overcome the barrier?
Are you ready to ace your next behavioral interview?
In conclusion, the key to success during behavioral interviews is preparation. In addition to preparing honest responses, you’ll want to make sure the information you convey is open, honest, concise, and informative. If you answer the interviewer’s questions in full while taking the STAR method into consideration while responding, you’ll have nothing to worry about!