How to ace the behavioral or Cultural fit interview round?

Navita Pareek
5 min readJul 20, 2022

--

Every tech and even non-tech interview is closed by a Behavioral round or as some companies say “Cultural Fit” round. But why is it so important and also difficult to crack the behavioral round?

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Importance of Behavioral Interview Round

Just around a decade back, the very last round of interviews used to be a formality but now it is the most important make-or-break round. Companies are getting more conscious of culture building and the work environment. They know the importance of making a safe and fun workplace. More and more companies are taking pride in supporting equality, diversity, work-life balance, and respect for all.

Behavioral rounds help them to understand the candidate as a person. If the candidate is fun to work with and easy-going. But it is very difficult to know the real person in that one hour of interview. Thus each company designs behavioral rounds in a way to understand the different features of the candidate. Following are a few important features which most companies appreciate;

  1. Calm
  2. Fun
  3. Enthusiastic
  4. Respectful to all
  5. Honest
  6. Friendly
  7. Punctual
  8. And the list goes on..

A behavioral round is also called a cultural-fit round as companies already defined their work culture and try to include only those employees who can maintain this culture. Thus if the interviewer feels that the candidate is not a good fit as a person, then no matter how good a candidate is in tech, the company doesn’t take the risk to hamper their currently defined and earned status of work culture.

Why is Behavioral round difficult to Crack?

Behavioral interviews don’t follow any rules or setup. They are free-ended discussions and different companies can be searching for totally different personal qualities in the candidate. Whereas a company like Amazon focuses more on team-player and risk-taking individuals, whereas, Google Hiring Managers believe more in creativity and collaboration.

Also, the way companies evaluate these qualities are also different. Few companies believe in a friendly discussion, while some companies believe in grinding over your past projects’ experience.

Thus it is important to understand what are important cultural pillars for the company which you are preparing for and how will you present your thoughts to the interviewer.

How to crack Behavioral Interview Round?

To crack the behavioral round, you need to understand what is culture to a company. I have worked in different companies and each company defines a different set of cultures. In Microsoft, problem-solving, clear communication, and punctuality were valued the most. In ThoughtWorks, fun at a place, respect for all, and the learning-teaching cycle were the most important things in the office.

The best way to know the exact culture is to connect with existing employees who will tell you in-depth about how they prepared for the behavioral round and what was the pattern of this cultural fit round. Do dig the platforms like LinkedIn for that.

As interviewers want to know about you as a person, they mostly do it by asking multiple questions about your past experience and then deciding whether you are eligible enough to be in their system or not. Thus the best way to present your past experience is to help the interviewer in understanding the past scenario and your role in the incident.

You can follow an answer-presenting technique which will help the interviewer to understand you better. One such widely used technique is called STAR (Situation, Task, Action & Result). Following the STAR method gives a nice and clear picture to the interviewer, as it has the following sections in your answer;

  • Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of past scenario.
  • Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation.
  • Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it.
  • Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved.

Following is my example of the STAR technique in explaining my inter-personal skill like team-building.

  • Situation: A team of young grads was sent with me to some far-off office for finishing a project. It was a team of 20 with 60% college-grads.
  • Task: I was the senior tech consultant. Thus, had the responsibility for both the professional and personal growth of the grads. I noticed that most grads were technically very sound but were not much enthusiastic about the project.
  • Action: I started communicating more with them during coffee or fuss-ball breaks. With regular interactions, I came to know that they are missing their college life and finding it difficult to cope-up with professional life.
  • Result: We started organizing more learn-teach sessions, team-building activities, and pair-programming to make a more friendly and collaborative work environment.

Important questions for Behavioral Round

Following are few important questions that you may get in your next behavioral or cultural fit interview round;

  1. Tell me about a time when you reported non-technical imporvements in you project.
  2. Tell me the time when you had a hard time with your direct seniors.
  3. Tell me the time when you had a hard time with your client.
  4. Tell me the time when you learnt a very important life lesson while on job.
  5. Tell me the time when you made a mistake in your project.
  6. Tell me the time when there was a communication gap within a time and if you fixed it and how.
  7. Which was the biggest team you ever worked with?
  8. How you make sure to have clear communication with your team mates?
  9. How do you collaborate with team member in different geo-location?
  10. Why are you thinking to quit your current company?
  11. What are the issues in your current project?
  12. Why have you choose the current professional path?
  13. Have you ever used the office resources for your personal use?
  14. How do you manage to work with difficult team mates?
  15. Have you mentored anyone and why?
  16. What do you do if see a bug in the production?
  17. How will you help your team-mate going through a difficult time in the office or home?
  18. What is your definition of work-life balance and how do you manage it?
  19. Which tools do you believe best for teams collaboration and why?
  20. Why do you want to join this company?
  21. Why do you believe you are among the best fit for our culture?
  22. What do you know about the company and its culture?
  23. What is your biggest achievement so far?
  24. How do you want to design your future and what steps are taking for that perfect future?
  25. How do you keep regular learnings and professional growth?

I hope these example behavioral interview round questions will help you to ace your next cultural fit round.

I know there already exists a lot of material online on cracking interviews, so make your plan today and if you need a mentor then ping me on my linkedIn

You can also use platforms that can connect you to the existing FAANG employees.

You can find an article on How to crack Microsoft interview in just 2 months here

You can find an article on how to prepare and ace system design interviews here.

Good Luck!!

--

--

Navita Pareek

Started as a Software Engineer, now an Entrepreneur.