Open-ended and behaviour-based interview questions: Examples

When interviewing candidates for a position, steer away as much as possible from factual, close-ended questions that require a yes or no response. Instead, try to get the candidate talking by using open-ended and behaviour-based questions.

Open-ended questions require the applicant to offer more detail and demonstrate their communication skills (for example, “Tell me about a time…”).

Behaviour-based questions require the applicant to hypothesize what they would do when presented with a realistic workplace scenario. Or the candidate may have relevant experience to answer and explain how they handled the situation. This type of framework showcases their judgment and decision-making skills.

The list below offers some sample open-ended and behaviour-based interview questions.

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • How would your boss/co-workers and/or subordinates describe you?
  • What motivates you?
  • What do you see as your strengths?
  • What accomplishments are you particularly proud of?
  • What do you know about our company, industry and/or position?
  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • Given what you know about this role, how would you define success in this role?
  • What things are most important to you in a job, manager and/or company?
  • Describe your ideal job.
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What do you want your career to look like in the short term?
  • What leadership style best motivates you?
  • What is your leadership style? (if a leader role)
  • How do you motivate people?
  • What motivates you to do your best work?
  • How do you deal with conflict?
  • How do you deal with stress?
  • What type of working environment do you excel in?
  • Can you explain this gap in your employment history? (if necessary)
  • What motivated you to take on different jobs within a short period of time?
  • In your most recent performance review, what areas were highlighted as being your strengths and opportunities to improve? What steps have you taken to address your development opportunities?
  • References are important to us. What will your leader tell us about your strengths and development opportunities?
  • Why did you leave your last position? What type of reference will your previous company provide?
  • What is your current salary? What are your salary expectations?
  • Give me an example of a difficult decision you’ve had to make in your position. What made it difficult and what was the outcome?
  • Describe a specific problem you’ve encountered in your position. How did you go about solving it?
  • Give me an example of when you’ve had to go above and beyond the call of duty to get the job done.
  • Tell me about an occasion where you needed to work with a group of people to get the job done.
  • Tell me about a time when you’ve been overloaded with work. How did you go about prioritizing your tasks?
  • Give me an example of a high-pressure situation you faced in the last X months. How did you handle it?
  • Describe a situation where you needed to get consensus. How did you go about doing so?
  • Tell me about a time when people disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?
  • Have you ever had to “sell” an idea to your leader, team or co-workers? How did you go about doing this? Did they buy in?
  • Give me an example of a time when your work was criticized in front of others. How did you respond? What did you learn from this situation?
  • Give me an example of a situation when you’ve had to deal with a very difficult client or leader. How did you go about dealing with the situation? Would you do anything different next time?
  • Describe a complex project that you were assigned to. What approach did you take to complete it? What was the outcome?
  • Give me an example of a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.


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