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What are behavioral interview questions?

Interviewers representing top companies across the globe are searching for authentic, honest, and credible employees. Behavioral interview questions are designed to help identify these qualities from an employee’s sharing of their past experiences.

Are behavioral questions for software engineers important? 

What are the real reasons that interviewers ask behavioral questions during the interview process?  In this article, we’ll crack the code on the software engineer behavioral interview with more insights on frequently asked behavioral questions.

In my article English Made Easier: English Language for Software Developers, you are asked to imagine yourself as a software developer named Developer-1, completing your first day and tasks at a great Fortune 500 company ‘X'. 

For the purposes of this article, imagine you are again Developer-1 and have now mastered English and the basic skills of software development. You are ready to upskill and find remote work as a mid-level developer. It’s time to brush up on your interview skills Developer-1. Breathe, it will be okay!

You smile to yourself as your technical interview skills have been sharpened with your latest experience working at company ‘X’. You then feel a tug pulling down your smile as you remember your difficulty with those seemingly unimportant behavioral interview questions. 

I’m Steve and I’ll be your behavioral interview advisor through this article. Let's understand and unlock the hidden meaning behind software engineering behavioral interview questions. We will then model some answers to make your behavioral interview skills as fluent as your English!

Image source: Pexels.com

How to answer behavioral interview questions

To take full advantage of the software engineer behavioral interview with questions and answers article, we have to understand ‘how’ and ‘why’. 

Okay, Developer-1, I know you’re super excited to speak ‘behavioral interview’ as fluently as your mother tongue, so let’s get you ready!

What is the best way to answer these questions, you ask? Well, as honestly as possible! Remember, this isn’t a test. It's an opportunity for you to participate in an activity that most people enjoy–talking about yourself. You will share behavioral information about your past that gives the interviewer an accurate view of how you will work in the future. It’s a lot like when you share interesting experiences about yourself on a first date. Your goal here is to paint the best picture of yourself and, hopefully, how you plan to spend time with this person.

Here are steps to express your best self for any behavioral interview question:

  • Know your values and strengths.
  • Know the values of the company you are applying to.
  • Pay attention to the skills asked for in job posts.
  • Write true experiences from your past (work | school | sport | hobby)  that match the skills from the job post.
  • Structure your answer using SAR, SOAR, or STAR situational response structures (Not sure which method you should use? Try them all! One of them will feel right!).

Most common behavioral questions with answers 

You are likely to be asked behavioral interview questions during one or more stages of the interview process. We will now look at common questions, learn what information they are seeking, and view some great example responses. 

Great Developer-1! You have the best steps in the industry for answering any behavioral interview question. However, as your behavioral interview advisor, I want to be 100% sure you’re ready on interview day. So fire up your favorite text editor, or note app, or take out a good-old-fashioned pen and paper. Let’s start crafting those great responses.

First, we begin by jotting down answers to the earlier steps. Then we’ll look at examples and example formats for you to craft your answers. Here are the steps rephrased into actionable instructions:

  • Write your values and strengths and keep them at the top of your mind.
  • Research the values of the company you are applying to by looking at their mission statement, talking with or looking at posts of current/past employees, and looking at recent news coverage of your target company.
  • Note down all the behavioral skills asked for in the job posts.
  • Write 2-3 true experiences from your past (work | education | sport | hobby) that match the skills from the job post.
  • Structure your experiences using SAR, SOAR, or STAR situational response structures. 

Super! Time to understand the actual meaning of those strangely worded behavioral interview questions. That means we will transport ourselves into the interviewer's mind!

Tell me about yourself and your background.

Interviewer💭: “I wonder what this candidate will be like to work with? Better question, will our culture here be a great match for them?”

Example answer:

  • S | As the eldest sibling growing up in a household of seven people, I've always looked for ways for people to live at their best!
  • T | I see software as a great way to accomplish this on a large scale.
  • A | I completed a full-stack software development program one month ago, where I did remote pair-programming with culturally diverse students and built real-world applications. 
  • R | I can now learn new technologies up to 75% faster. Applying my skills, I collaborated on diverse 4-5 person teams to build open-source software while applying programming best practices, computer science fundamentals, project time management, cross-cultural communication, and agile methodology.
  • Bonus | Over the next five years, I want to help people globally live their best life through the massive reach of technology. To achieve this, I want to:
  • get a job with a great company like (insert name of company).
  • work on new, interesting, and challenging software solutions.
  • build a diverse technical portfolio and master the software development product life cycle through applying skills learned from 9+ years of work experience;
  • Including time management
  • Problem-solving
  • Client empathy 
  • Computer science fundamentals.

 I know. Why not ask me directly what it’s like to work with me? Developer-1, I expect you’ll tell me that you are a wonderful employee and a perfect candidate to work at a company ‘Y’, and so do interviewers. However, most candidates will say the same. Show your interviewer that you’re different. Show them that you understand their company mission and that your skills and future outlook align with theirs.

Tip: Check out more ‘about yourself’ questions.

Image source: Pexels.com

Why do you want to work with us?

Interviewer💭: “Can this candidate help us to succeed? Does this candidate’s interests and skills fit well within our company?”

Example answer:

  • S | As the eldest sibling growing up in a household of seven people, I've always looked for ways for people to live at their best!
  • T | My target is to make a positive change in the life of users.
  • A | I have built full-stack software such as an appointment scheduler for Doctors that allow users to book appointments up to 80% faster than in person scheduling.
  • R | Users share that the time saved on scheduling appointments, is directed toward being more productive, and living at their best.

If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out these examples.

Why are you leaving your current company?

Interviewer💭: “Is this candidate leaving their past job because they lack the skills their company, and we, are looking for?”

Example answer:

  • S | After five years teaching English as a second language in a foreign country and helping students to discover their dreams, I want to explore my childhood dream of working in tech. 
  • T | I hope to work in a supportive environment where employees are rewarded for their talent and encouraged to constantly improve.
  • A | I’ve upskilled and completed 1000+ hours of remote pair programming on real-world projects. 
  • R | I am ready for new challenges and to bring to my new team the innovation and creativity I’ve learned from teaching.

Other examples can be found here.

Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a coworker and how you resolved it.

Interviewer💭: “Will this candidate be a great team player, kind and professional while handling a conflict?”

Example answer:

  • S | I normally apply best collaborative practices, such as working agreements to prevent the likelihood of conflicts working with a team. However, this doesn't prevent conflicts such as differences of opinion over work outcomes. While building the front end of our React Appointment application with four other developers, I disagreed with a teammate over the visual correctness of a header text alignment. 
  • T | My aim is to arrive at an agreement where both my teammate and I feel respected and that we’ve made the best decision for the project.
  • A | To resolve our conflict, I suggested we present our opposing ideas of the correct alignment position to the group and ask them to vote on which would remain in the project. 
  • R | The group voted for my recommendation, and though my teammate was disappointed, he felt happy that his voice was heard and considered by all team members.

Tell me about a project that you worked on recently. Can you describe the technical challenges that you faced and how you overcame those challenges?

Interviewer💭: “Is this candidate flexible and able to apply multiple methods to get unstuck?”

Example answer format:

  • S | Describe a past experience or project that contains the skills that are required in your new job, which you have applied by overcoming technical challenges.
  • T | Describe an outcome target that aligns with the working values of your target company and also indicates your responsibilities for the project. 
  • A | State the action taken to complete the target and task.
  • R | Share how you solved the problem and learned a company-related skill/s while doing so.

See more examples of this question here.

Image source: Pexels.com

How do you deal with unexpected changes to deadlines?

Interviewer💭: “How does this candidate act under pressure? Are they able to maintain their professional integrity?”

Example answer format:

  • S | Give a situation when you were scheduled to meet a deadline and it was suddenly moved to an earlier time.
  • T | State a target, such as wanting to complete a task by the scheduled deadline, and best case, before the deadline. 
  • A | Show how you adapted to the situation by outlining the steps taken to complete the task. (Note: if it was impossible to meet the deadline, be honest with this information and inform your superiors quickly so they have enough time to pursue other actions. Knowing what you can and can not do is also a great skill). 
  • R | State how your actions led to completing the project on time. Or explain how you learned to communicate honest expectations to protect the integrity of the project. 

What would you say is a weakness of yours?

Interviewer💭: “Is this candidate honest? Do they have an attitude to keep learning and treat mistakes as opportunities for growth?”

Example answer:

  • S | I enjoy finding the solution to challenges but sometimes spend a great deal of time without help, arriving at the answer.
  • T | My target is to decrease the time I spend stuck on a problem by asking for help sooner. 
  • A | I have set myself timers whenever I am working on a new challenge. After trying to solve a challenge on my own for half an hour with no success, I now reach out for help and log the solution for future reference.
  • R | I now complete projects 85% faster while sharpening my networking and collaboration skills.

There are more answers to this question here.

Image source Christina Morillo

Resources to prepare for a coding interview

Resources I’ve been using to perfect my behavioral interview answers is this curated list of top questions by company.

Books are also a great place to find trustworthy information as authors usually conduct considerable research to support their writing. Check out this ultimate guide to preparing for the coding interview, “Cracking the Coding Interview” by Gayle Laakmann McDowell

Feeling ready to conquer the behavioral interview now, and want to freshen up your other interviewing skills? Check out this ultimate guide to help you prepare for the coding interview for pointers on popular types of interview for tech jobs. 

It’s great knowing how to interview, but how do you find a job that is a perfect match to your own values and technical strengths? Review tips on job searching and get that much closer to your dream job! 

Finally, if you’re unsure of what salary expectations to have when transitioning to your new role, take a look at some starting salaries in software development.


The best way to prepare for the behavioral interview is to review common questions to learn what they are seeking from you. Craft clear responses to these questions and inject personal and relevant details that highlight the skills and values asked for in job descriptions. 

Developer-1, that new job is as good as yours! When a hiring manager/recruiter asks you a question to determine your values, soft skills, and fit for their company, you now have the answers to demonstrate your value!

If you’re ready for greater challenges and opportunities, then 3x your salary by learning to code with Microverse!

We have launched an English school for software developers. Practice speaking and lose your fear.

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