6 “Tell Me About a Time…” Interview Questions and Answers (2023)

6 “Tell Me About a Time…” Interview Questions and Answers (1)

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Interview questions to reflect on the past

Interview questions to reflect on the past

What are the most common “Tell me about a time when” questions?

What are the best ways to answer these questions?

Moving forward

You’re all set for your job interview. You know to say that you excel at teamwork, have great time management skills, and work well under tight deadlines. But what if the hiring manager asks you those behavioral interview questions that require a bit more preparation?

Hiring managers love to ask “Tell me about a time…” interview questions. They provide insight into how you handle specific situations to see if your response will mesh with the company.

From an interviewee, these questions demand a well-thought-out, good answer with specific examples. It might even be what makes or breaks a good impression. You definitely want to get them right the first time.

Whether you’re applying for your first internship or your dream job, preparing for these interview questions will help you come across as confident and authentic. Any hiring manager will know you’ve reflected on your actions and identified why you truly are the best fit for the role.

These job interview questions have an exceptional range but don’t worry. We’ll give you a complete overview of positive and negative questions and some example answers to help you nail your next job interview.

Interview questions to reflect on the past

No matter what industry you’re in or what kind of job you’re looking to land, you’ll need to talk about past experiences. Talking about your previous employment will give the recruiter insight into how you’d handle this new job.

That’s why the “Tell me about a time when…” questions are so important. These behavioral interview questions allow the recruiter to hear your thought process during challenging situations and understand your thinking better.

Perhaps they’ll ask how you balance multiple deadlines, and your answer must demonstrate that you can handle a fast-paced work environment. Maybe they want to know how you manage an ineffective team member because you’ll be responsible for overseeing junior employees.

You could say you have amazing leadership skills, but what do they look like in practice, and when have you used them? Do you claim to know how to manage social media accounts without ever running a campaign? If you’ve made a big mistake in one of these scenarios, can you admit that and frame it as a learning opportunity?

Studies have found that past behavior helps predict future behavior. Of course, everyone can grow and learn, but recruiters use behavioral interview questions to see if there’s a solid base for improvement. They want to see if you’re adaptable and if you have the self-awarenessgrowth requires.

6 “Tell Me About a Time…” Interview Questions and Answers (2)

A complete overview: The positive and the negative

You want your job interview to paint an excellent picture of yourself. But you have to understand that these types of questions could be positive or negative.

Hiring managers want to hear an example of a time when you did something great, and also an example of when you made a mistake. Not all of your past experiences are positive, so make sure you can also draw on negative experiences in your past jobs.

Here are examples of positive and negative questions:

  • Negative example: Tell me about a time you failed to meet a deliverable deadline.
  • Positive example: Tell me about a time when you made a positive impact on your team members.

But don’t sweat the negative questions. Failure happens to everyone, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. In fact, it’s making mistakes is a good thing. Research has found that making small mistakes helps you learn information and skills betterthan if you hadn’t made any prior mistakes at all. Mistakes improve your memory when you’re learning and teach you what to avoid next time.

Learning from your mistakes also shows that you have a growth mindset, and that’s what hiring managers want to see. They know that nobody’s perfect, so they want to investigate how you treat your failures. Do you hide them and pretend like they never happened, or do you speak openly about them? Can you admit defeat, adapt to the circumstances, and move on knowing you’re stronger?

6 “Tell Me About a Time…” Interview Questions and Answers (3)

Remember, you’re not a robot that does things to perfection. Coming to work or a job interview as a Whole Person™will show that you’re only human, and you accept your mistakes just as much as you appreciate your accomplishments.

If you need help learning how to answer negative interview questions, consider meeting with a BetterUp coach. They’ll help you recognize your mistakes and identify how they’re learning opportunities so you can be proud of your growth in interviews — and in life.

What are the most common “Tell me about a time when” questions?

The questions you’re asked during your interview will depend on your industry and seniority. But you can count on a few common behavioral interview questions popping up at any level. When you have an idea of what’s coming, you’ll be better prepared and more articulate in the moment.

And if you impress the hiring manager with how well you answer behavioral interview questions, they might send you further down the hiring funnel to a working interviewor the final round.

6 “Tell Me About a Time…” Interview Questions and Answers (4)

Here are six common questions and sample answers for some “Tell me about a time when…” questions:

  1. Question: Tell me about a time when you had two simultaneous long-term projects and how you prioritized your time.

    Example answer: The end of the year is the busiest time at my last job. Once, I had two client reports to write for the same due date, so I had to keep myself organized. I knew I had other smaller responsibilities to uphold, so I wrote a to-do list each day and made sure to accomplish the smaller and easier tasks first thing in the morning.
    This let me focus on my two client reports in the afternoons. I used time-blocking on my schedule to limit notifications and distractions, investing equal time in each report until they finished on time.

  2. Question: Tell me about a time when you experienced conflict with a coworker.

    Example answer: One of my coworkers and I had to design a new advertising campaign for our client. We disagreed on nearly everything, and our productivity suffered. Rather than let that ruin our work, I made the most of my problem-solving skills and sat down with my coworker when we were halfway to the deadline.
    We calmly communicated each one of our frustrations, and afterward, I felt like I better understood their perspective. We had an easier time compromising when we knew where one another was coming from.

  3. Question: Tell me about a time when you reached a milestone at work.

    Example answer: One of my biggest goals this past year was to improve my public speaking skills and overcome my shyness. Even though it scared me, I routinely left my comfort zone by volunteering to speak first and asking questions in meetings. A year later, I’m not afraid to use my voice, and I see the value in sharing my perspective.

  4. Question: Tell me about a time when you missed a deadline or fell behind at work.

    Example answer: I had just returned from some time off and wasn’t back into my usual groove of working yet. I hadn’t asked someone to cover my part of a project before I left, despite my work friend answering. On my second day back, I realized that I was the only person who hadn’t finished their part. I ended up working overtime all week so the team wouldn’t be waiting on me. I felt ashamed for being late and exhausted from trying to catch up. I learned that I shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help and need to establish more of a routine to follow to never miss a deadline.

  5. Question: Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a new structure at work.
    Example answer: I learned the value of adaptability two years ago when my office switched to a new bookkeeping system. The new system was very complex, and I was very confused. But I made notes on how to use it, asked questions when needed, and took the time to better understand the new system. I checked in with someone from the accounting department every few weeks to ensure I wasn’t missing anything. Eventually, my confidence grew, and it taught me about the value of my teammates. Everyone else knows something you don’t.
  6. Question: Tell me about a time when you had to handle a high-pressure, stressful situation.
    Example answer: My computer crashed a few hours before an important video call with a client. It was supposed to be my first solo presentation on the account, and the crash erased all of my slides and detailed presentation notes. My instinct was to tell my boss that someone else needed to take over.
    But I took a moment to manage my energy, do some breathing exercises, and come up with a plan. I quickly made new, simple slides and wrote everything I could remember. I’d worked on the presentation for days, so I needed to ignore my imposter syndrome and trust that I knew what I was going to say.
    A little self-compassion went a long way, and I nailed the presentation. It was much more relaxed with a less rigid structure, and my boss loved it.

6 “Tell Me About a Time…” Interview Questions and Answers (5)

What are the best ways to answer these questions?

Knowing common behavioral interview questions is one thing, but prepping your answers beforehand is especially handy. Being prepared is a wonderful thing. It alleviates jitters and boosts your confidence.

Everyone prepares differently for job interviews, but here are four tips to help you give great answers and make a good impression on the hiring manager:

  1. Be specific with your answers: Give details, be descriptive, and use specific examples when you explain yourself. Avoid anything generic or impersonal.
  2. Write down your stories beforehand: If you find you draw a blank when asked questions, try writing out your accomplishments, strengths, and weaknesses ahead of time to help recall them easier. Find several key moments in your career and list what they taught you. Some of them probably work for several other questions.
  3. Choose relevant stories: Remember, this is a professional setting, so stick to work-related stories and examples that apply to the job.
  4. Use the STAR method: STARstands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. It’ll help you understand how to frame your answer and what order to talk about things.

6 “Tell Me About a Time…” Interview Questions and Answers (6)

Moving forward

Tell me about a time…” interview questions have the power to throw off the rest of your interview. But they don’t have to be something dreadful. They’re a great opportunity to tell a good story about yourself, and the hiring managers are eager to listen. You’ve worked hard to get where you are, and you deserve to brag about what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown.

Your interview is a good chance to be a good storyteller and share your past experiences, positive and negative. You can share your strengths, things learned from mistakes and your work ethic. But above all, it’s the opportunity to introduce who you are, your values, and how you’ll contribute to a team.

The hiring manager wants to understand you as a person, not just an employee, so remember to always be your authentic self and answer their questions with pride.

6 “Tell Me About a Time…” Interview Questions and Answers (7)

Professional Development

Published September 27, 2022


What is the proper way to answer the interview question Tell me about a time you worked under pressure? ›

You might say "I love it!" and explain how you thrive when you're under pressure and get motivated to perform at your highest level. Then tell them about a time when you powered through a difficult situation when things got tense and ended up achieving something great.

How do you answer tell us about time? ›

How to answer the interview question "tell me about a time..."
  1. Situation: Provide context for the story you are about to share. ...
  2. Task: Provide detail about the challenge you had to overcome or the problem you needed to solve.
Jul 26, 2021

What are the 10 most common interview questions and answers? ›

  • 10 common interview questions and answers. ...
  • Tell me about yourself. ...
  • What attracted you to our company? ...
  • Tell me about your strengths. ...
  • What are your weaknesses? ...
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? ...
  • Can you tell me about a time where you encountered a business challenge?

How do you answer interview question Tell me about a time you had a conflict? ›

In summary, use follow these three tips when answering questions about conflict in the workplace:
  1. Give examples of a positive, quantifiable outcome.
  2. Use a specific example, preferably one that is relatable to the interviewer.
  3. Explain the resolution, not just the problem.
Dec 9, 2022

Can you give an example of when you have worked well under pressure? ›

In my previous experience, I always worked well during deadlines, and I always learned how to work more efficiently afterwards." "I work well under pressure because I don't panic. I maintain self control and work as efficiently as possible. In all my experiences, I did well and I always enjoyed the experience."

What is an example of tell me about a time? ›

For example, “Tell me a time when you had to work under pressure” reveals more real-life experiences than “Do you work well under pressure?” You should ask positive and negative “tell me about a time when” questions to learn about your candidate's strengths and weaknesses.

What are the 5 hardest interview questions? ›

The most difficult interview questions (and answers)
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What's something that you didn't like about your last job?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • How do you deal with conflict with a co-worker?
  • Here's an answer for you.

What is an example of Tell me about a time you failed? ›

For example: Three years ago, we were doing A, but realized the result fell short of the goal. Things were just not working. Many saw it as a failure, but we also saw it as an opportunity to improve, so we did a thorough analysis and realized that B was a better tactic.

Why should we hire you? ›

Show that you have skills and experience to do the job and deliver great results. You never know what other candidates offer to the company. But you know you: emphasize your key skills, strengths, talents, work experience, and professional achievements that are fundamental to getting great things done on this position.

What is time very short answer? ›

Time is the ongoing sequence of events taking place. The past, present and future. The basic unit of time is the second. There are also minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years.

How do you start with Tell me about yourself? ›

Key Takeaways
  • Structure your answer in a way that makes sense. Stick to the past-present-future format, and you're all good!
  • Keep it relevant and brief (1-2 minutes max). No one wants to hear your whole life story.
  • Mention any of your top achievements and relevant work experiences.
Feb 1, 2023

What are some tricky interview questions? ›

15 tricky job interview questions — and how to nail them
  • Can you tell me a little about yourself?
  • How did you hear about the position?
  • What do you know about the company?
  • What are your greatest professional strengths?
  • What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
  • What is your greatest professional achievement?

What are 3 good interview questions? ›

Tell me about yourself. Why are you interested in working for this company? Tell me about your education.

How do you handle stress and pressure? ›

2. Commit to a Positive Attitude
  1. Decide what you can do. Pinpoint which parts of the situation you have the power to change or influence for the better. ...
  2. Get support. Find someone to talk to about your situation. ...
  3. Care for yourself. Take especially good care of yourself when stress in your life is high.

Can you give an example of a time where you were asked to do something you disagreed with? ›

One time, I disagreed with my boss over a decision that would cost the company a lot of money if we did it his way. It had to do with how we were going to handle our Facebook ad campaigns, and I came up with a solution that ultimately saved the company a grand on our advertising.

Can you describe a time when you handled conflict at work? ›

Example: "I worked as a receptionist where I once encountered a furious client. The client came in yelling and visibly angry. After some time, I managed to calm them down and asked what was wrong. While the client's responses were rude, I focused on their complaints.

How do you answer Tell me about a time you had to manage conflicting priorities? ›

How to answer the conflicting priorities interview question
  1. Explain how you plan your day. ...
  2. Describe how you adjust priorities. ...
  3. Talk about how you meet deadlines. ...
  4. Describe how you manage work-life balance. ...
  5. Connect your answers to the task's requirements.
Jul 5, 2022

Why do you want this job? ›

'I want this job because I have clear skills that will help me achieve...' 'This role will give me the opportunity to combine both my skills in [skill 1] and [skill 2] to achieve...' 'I love [job role specific task] and my last job took me away from that.

Can you work under deadlines or pressure? ›

Yes, I can work under pressure, because it gives us the ability to do work. Pressure is one part of this life to overcome success you achieve anything.

How would you handle a situation under pressure at work? ›

In this post we offer tips to help your team maintain composure and cope better with stress and pressure in the workplace.
  1. Maintain control and focus. ...
  2. Create a plan. ...
  3. Evaluate your priorities. ...
  4. Avoid procrastination… ...
  5. 5. … ...
  6. Break down tasks and simplify. ...
  7. Communicate effectively with your team. ...
  8. Execute the plan.

How do you answer tell me about yourself in 5 minutes? ›

First Greet them, 2) start for your full name, 3) your educational with institute name with year of passing, 4) about your work experience what you have mention in your resume from past to present in short sentence, 5) Last your Family, family consist of mother, father, elder/younger, brother/sister.

What is an excellent question to ask the interviewer? ›

Smart questions to ask about the interviewer

Has your role changed since you've been here? What did you do before this? Why did you come to this company? What's your favorite part about working here?

What not to ask in an interview? ›

Questions to avoid in an interview:

Never ask about pay, time off, benefits, etc. (Wait until later in the process to inquire about these things.) Never ask “What does your company do?” • Never ask “If I'm hired, when can I start applying for other positions in the company?” • Never ask how quickly you can be promoted.

How do you handle difficult interview? ›

5 Tips for Handling Difficult Interview Questions
  1. Bring an extra copy of your résumé—for yourself. ...
  2. Bring paper and pen. ...
  3. Answer a question with a question. ...
  4. Consider the motivation behind the question. ...
  5. Keep a sense of humor.
Sep 26, 2016

Can you tell me about a time when you had to use your own initiative? ›

Example: 'I was working on a project with two other people who were both new to the company. I felt like they didn't know what they were doing, so I took initiative and decided to lead the project, which was the first time I had the opportunity to do so.

Can you tell me a time when you failed to meet a deadline? ›

I missed my deadline and had to change the delivery window. The client wasn't happy with the extra time I needed. While I did finish the project, it took much longer than it should have. Had I taken those steps to test changes at every stage, I wouldn't have had to go back to the drawing board to make changes.

How do you answer what motivates you? ›

Good answers to the question 'what motivates you?'
  1. meeting deadlines, targets or goals.
  2. mentoring and coaching others.
  3. learning new things.
  4. coming up with creative ideas to improve something, or make something new.
  5. analysing complex data in order to draw clear and simple conclusions.
  6. working well as part of a team.

What can you bring to the company? ›

How to (and how not to) answer the interview question 'What can you bring to the company?' The simple answer to this question is you : you bring all of your skills, qualities, values, interests, academic knowledge, internships and life experience to the company.

Why should we hire you 5 reason? ›

“You should hire me because I have a proven ability to lead teams and drive results, through my experience in project management and my natural ability to motivate others. I'm committed to creating a positive work environment and am always looking for ways to help my team grow and succeed.”

What makes you a good fit for this job? ›

For example, you might explain that you are particularly motivated, or that you are known for going above and beyond for your employers. A second way to answer is to emphasize your unique skills. If you have skills that make you a strong candidate (especially if not many people have those skills), mention these.

What is the best explanation of time? ›

In math, time can be defined as an ongoing and continuous sequence of events that occur in succession, from past through the present, and to the future. Time is used to quantify, measure, or compare the duration of events or the intervals between them, and even, sequence events.

What are two different ways to understand time? ›

There are two main ways of measuring time: dynamic and atomic time.

How do you explain time in words? ›

For example, “It's ten past three”, or 3:10. Or another example, “It's twenty after eight”, or 8:20. With minutes 31 – 59, we say to (the next hour). For example, when it's 10:40, we say “It's twenty to eleven” (Eleven minus twenty minutes).

Can you tell me about yourself simple answer? ›

Your answer to the "tell me about yourself" question should describe your current situation, your past job experience, the reason you're a good fit for the role, and how you align with the company values. Tell the interviewer about your current position and a recent big accomplishment or positive feedback you received.

What is your biggest strength? ›

Here are some examples of strengths you could mention.
  • Enthusiasm.
  • Creative thinking.
  • Task prioritization.
  • Discipline.
  • Determination.
  • Analytical thinking.
  • Communication skills.
  • Dedication.
Jan 4, 2023

Can u tell me about yourself answer? ›

A simple formula for answering “Tell me about yourself”

Present: Talk a little bit about what your current role is, the scope of it, and perhaps a big recent accomplishment. Past: Tell the interviewer how you got there and/or mention previous experience that's relevant to the job and company you're applying for.

What are the 10 hardest interview questions? ›

10 of The Hardest Interview Questions & How to Answer Them
  • 1) What do you consider to be your weaknesses? ...
  • 2) What are your strengths? ...
  • 3) Could you tell me a little about yourself? ...
  • 4) What can you tell me about this company? ...
  • 5) What is it that sets you apart from other candidates? ...
  • 6) Why did you leave your previous job?

How would you describe yourself? ›

Sample answers:

I am a hard-working and driven individual who isn't afraid to face a challenge. I'm passionate about my work and I know how to get the job done. I would describe myself as an open and honest person who doesn't believe in misleading other people and tries to be fair in everything I do.

How do you nail an interview? ›

But if you're ready to take your interviewing skills to the next level, check out these five tips to nailing the interview.
  1. Own Your Personal Story. ...
  2. Bring Real-Life Examples. ...
  3. Understand the Value of Numbers. ...
  4. Hone Your Value Sets. ...
  5. Come Prepared with Great Questions.
Nov 8, 2021

How do you see yourself 5 years from now? ›

I would like to be financially independent and gain more time-to-time knowledge in the company's goals. And to get a respected position that is my future endeavour to easy. As a person, I want to be a more skilled, more capable person. As a professional, I see myself as handling more responsibilities.

What are you passionate about? ›

This could be: Working with technology, solving interesting technical challenges, helping people, making a difference in people's lives, helping people live healthier lives, etc. Then think about why that excites you, or how that fits into your personal interests.

Can you work under pressure? ›

The answer is Yes. We surely can work under stress but the cons in working under pressure or stress is that it hinders or blocks your creativity and ability to take smart decisions. So to overcome this situation, we should stay calm and breathe more.

Can you tell me about a time when you had to work under pressure? ›

Example answers

One time I was supposed to deliver a project to a client in five days. A colleague who was working with another client had the same deadline, but he had to take a leave of absence due to personal reasons. I was forced to take up both projects at the same time, but I did not let the stress affect me.

How do you handle pressure at work interview answers? ›

Share a specific example

Think of a time you worked well under pressure. Perhaps it was when you had a tight deadline or an unexpected change to a project. Share how you managed to thrive under such circumstances and stay focused on your work. Use this example to prove that you can handle stressful situations.

How do you handle working under pressure answer? ›

In this post we offer tips to help your team maintain composure and cope better with stress and pressure in the workplace.
  1. Maintain control and focus. ...
  2. Create a plan. ...
  3. Evaluate your priorities. ...
  4. Avoid procrastination… ...
  5. 5. … ...
  6. Break down tasks and simplify. ...
  7. Communicate effectively with your team. ...
  8. Execute the plan.

How do you handle working under pressure? ›

Under pressure? 5 ways to cope with extra stress
  1. Acknowledge your feelings (without judgement) It's important to name your emotions, especially the more confronting ones, such as fear, anxiety, or anger. ...
  2. Cut yourself some slack. ...
  3. Take microbreaks. ...
  4. Focus on the next best step. ...
  5. Communicate with your support crew.
Sep 14, 2022

How do you handle stress? ›

Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress
  1. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. ...
  2. Take care of yourself. ...
  3. Take care of your body. ...
  4. Make time to unwind. ...
  5. Talk to others. ...
  6. Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations.
  7. Avoid drugs and alcohol.

How do you handle difficult situations? ›

Three Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Situations
  1. Strategy one: Acknowledge your emotions. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel. ...
  2. Strategy two: Get inspired by your other selves. ...
  3. Strategy three: Imagine yourself as a fictional character.

How would you handle a situation with tight deadlines? ›

Five tips for dealing with impossibly tight deadlines
  1. Clear your work schedule. Start by clearing your schedule and to-do list of anything that isn't a high priority. ...
  2. Get help from the beginning. ...
  3. Break the project down. ...
  4. Work on it one step at a time. ...
  5. Have a disclaimer in proposals and quotes.
Jun 12, 2013

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? ›

So what are interviewers asking? Well, when interviewers ask, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” They're really asking, “What are your career goals within this position?” They want to know that the position will satisfy you and that you'll work hard and stay with the company for a long time.


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