In the world of executive search, finding the right fit for your organization goes beyond skills and experience. Behavioral questions delve into a candidate’s past actions, revealing insights into their problem-solving abilities, communication skills, and cultural fit. At BrainWorks, we believe in harnessing the power of behavioral questions to identify top talent that not only meets but exceeds expectations. Here are some behavioral questions and key tips to incorporate into your interview process.

Managing Up

Tell me about a time where…

  • You helped a leader understand your vision or stance on a subject matter.
  • You educated a leader on the importance, urgency, or reason for your request.
  • You educated a leader on the value of a process you’ve implemented.


Reflect on a situation where…

  • You and a peer were not aligned on priority or process methodology. How did you feel, and what did you do?
  • You had to let a peer take the lead even if you didn’t completely agree or trust that it was the right direction. How did you feel, and what did you do?
  • The strategy of a leader didn’t make sense or didn’t provide value from your perspective. How did you feel, and what did you do?
  • You had to follow instructions, although you didn’t agree or feel you wanted to. How did you feel, and what did you do?
  • You observed a conflict or altercation. How did you feel, and what did you do?

I vs. We

Observe. Pay attention to when a candidate exclusively uses “I” rather than “we.” During the interview process, it’s essential to pay attention to the language candidates use when discussing their past experiences and achievements. While it’s natural for candidates to highlight their individual contributions, an overemphasis on “I” rather than “we” can sometimes indicate a lack of teamwork or collaboration skills.

Project Success

Discuss a project where…

  • You worked with another peer or leader. What percentage of the time did you take the lead versus letting your colleague drive? Do you have a preference?
  • You contributed most of the heavy lifting to complete the project but received very little recognition. How did you deal with the lack of recognition?

Project Obstacles

Recall a scenario where…

  • You and a co-worker didn’t align on priorities or methodologies. How did you overcome this?
  • Your peer took more credit on a project than warranted. How did you feel, and what did you do?
  • You and a colleague couldn’t complete a project or deliverable on time. What happened, who communicated the failure, and what was the end result?

Cultural fit

Share your experience when…

  • You had a harder time than usual fitting into a team or working with a leader. How did you feel, and what did you do?
  • You joined a team/organization undergoing change. How did you adapt?
  • You had to work parallel to peers but had the same supervisor. How did this dynamic affect your relationships?
  • You didn’t feel connected to the culture of your team, supervisor, or company. How did you address this?


Describe a scenario where…

  • You inserted yourself into a conversation or project and contributed to its success. What were the immediate and long-term results?
  • You stepped outside of your job description to share an idea with your team. What was the team’s reaction to your contribution? Did you feel empowered to contribute again in the future?


Integrating these behavioral questions into your interview process will help you uncover invaluable insights into candidates’ behaviors, attitudes, and cultural alignment. By focusing on past actions and experiences, you’ll be better equipped to identify top talent that not only meets but exceeds your organization’s needs and expectations.

If you need a partner to identify top talent for your high-end positions, BrainWorks has over 30 years of experience placing high-quality candidates.


BrainWorks is a recruiting organization that partners with clients to match them with recruiters who are experts in meeting their needs. Areas of specialization include Accounting & Finance recruiting, Accounting & Finance – Interim recruiting, Alternative Investments recruitingAnalytics, Data Science & Data Governance recruiting, Commodities Technology & Training recruiting, Consumer Products recruiters, CRM & Direct Marketing recruiting, Cybersecurity recruiting, Data & Data Insights recruiting, eCommerce & Digital Marketing recruiting, Financial Technology, Go-To-Market Search – Private Equity/Insurance and Financial Services recruiting, Human Resources recruiters, Legal recruiting, Market Research & Consumer Insights recruiting, Medical Device recruiting, Private Equity Recruiting – Portfolio Companies, Private Equity, Private Credit & Corporate Development recruiting, Sales and Marketing recruiting, Supply Chain & Operations recruiting, Tax Recruiting, Technology recruiting. We solve your hiring challenges by leveraging our vast network of highly skilled talent and our extensive, time-tested industry expertise. To learn more about how BrainWorks can help you, contact us.

  • Learn more about our approach to leadership. Visit our Practice Leader page.
  • Contact us to discuss how we can support your organization’s talent acquisition at our Contact Us page.

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