25 “Describe a Moment When” Interview Questions

Whether you’re working as an agency recruiter, a corporate recruiter, or part of the Human Resources team, the interview phase in the hiring process holds immense significance. It’s the most crucial phase. In behavioral-based interviews, questions that begin with “Describe a Moment When” play a pivotal role. These questions are vital for this interviewing method, regardless of the specific job or industry, as they provide valuable insights into a candidate’s past experiences and ability to handle similar situations.

What Exactly is a Behavioral Interview?

During a behavioral-based interview, we often pose “Describe a Moment When” questions to job candidates. But what exactly is a behavioral-based discussion?

It’s an interviewing approach where the hr recruiter or hiring manager seeks to understand how a candidate handled specific situations in the past. This helps gauge how the candidate is likely to handle similar situations if hired. Behavioral-based interviews focus less on skills and experience and more on assessing a candidate’s suitability for the position’s responsibilities.

As you may have inferred, “Describe a Moment When” questions play a fundamental role in behavioral-based interviews. These questions prompt candidates to describe their past actions in real-life situations, offering insights into how they have performed on the job rather than speculating about hypothetical scenarios.

Behavioral Interview

‘Tell Me About a moment When’ You Messed Up Inquiries

Perfection in a candidate is an ideal we may wish for, but it’s essential to acknowledge that no one is flawless. Thus, when conducting a behavioral-based interview, it becomes your responsibility to uncover the imperfections in potential candidates and understand how they have addressed their past shortcomings.

This is precisely why you might ask, “Can you Describe a Moment When you made a mistake?” (Even though it’s more of a statement than a question.)

Errors and challenges are integral to every individual’s journey, regardless of their talents and experience. What truly matters is how a candidate responds to these setbacks, which often reflects their potential for success.

Describe a Moment When you Failed

Interview Questions That Ask, "Describe a Moment When you Failed"

“Describe a Moment When” interview questions are akin to the “Describe a Moment you made a mistake” queries, but they focus on more substantial and impactful situations. While making a mistake can often be a minor incident with limited implications for a candidate’s overall job performance, facing a failure represents encountering larger-scale adversity.

For instance, a mistake might occur during the execution of a critical project, yet the project could still be successful. This differs from the project becoming a failure due to a single mistake or, more commonly, a series of errors.

It’s essential to recognize that every job candidate has made mistakes or experienced failures at some point. Hence, it’s beneficial to inquire about their past mistakes and failures to understand how they responded. Did they exhibit a positive and constructive approach, learning from their missteps and adapting for the better? Or did their mistakes and failures negatively impact their future performance? Evaluating their responses to these questions helps employers gauge candidates’ ability to handle challenges and grow from setbacks, making it a valuable part of the hiring process.

What are “Describe a Moment When” Interview Questions?

As a recruiter, conducting compelling interviews is crucial for gaining insights into candidates’ character and suitability for the role.

“Describe a Moment When” interview questions fall under behavioral interview questions. These queries encourage candidates to share specific stories and examples from their work experiences, educational backgrounds, or personal lives. What candidates reveal through their responses can provide valuable indicators of their potential fit within your client’s company.

These “Think of a time when” interview questions delve deeper and are more personal than standard interview queries. For instance, asking, “Describe a Moment When you had to work under pressure,” elicits real-life experiences beyond a simple “Do you work well under pressure?” inquiry.

It’s advisable to pose positive and negative “Describe a Moment When” questions to gain insights into a candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, and capacity to learn from past experiences. For instance:

Share an example of when you successfully implemented a change at work (positive).

Describe a situation where you faced a setback or failure at work (negative).

By asking a combination of general and job-related questions, you can comprehensively understand the candidate’s abilities and qualifications. Be sure to take thorough notes during the interview to facilitate comparisons among candidates’ responses.

When Should You Ask “Describe a Moment When” Interview Questions?

In the hiring process, “Describe a Moment When” questions are a valuable tool used in different stages, from pre-interview screenings to face-to-face interviews. When screening candidates over the phone, these questions help narrow the pool. This information gathered from the phone screening, especially responses to the “name a time” questions, can be shared with the hiring company.

During in-person interviews, these questions shift slightly to “describe a time” scenarios. As an interviewer or someone representing the hiring company, paying attention to these stories allows observation of the candidate’s verbal responses and body language, offering insights into their past experiences.

List of Interview Questions: “Describe a Moment When”

The questions you pose during an interview can vary depending on the specific job requirements. When it comes to “Describe a Moment” interview questions, the typical format involves asking candidates to recount real-life situations and reflect on the lessons they learned from them. These questions are designed to prompt candidates to relate their experiences to the open position and can be followed by queries specific to your client’s company. Below, you’ll find 25 such interview questions:

  1. Share a time when you achieved a work-related goal. How did you go about reaching it?
  2. Think of an instance when you set a goal but couldn’t attain it. What were the obstacles, and how did you handle them?
  3. Describe a situation when you fell behind on your work. What caused the delay, and what steps did you take to catch up?
  4. Can you recall when you led a team at work and encountered challenges? How did you resolve them?
  5. Discuss a time when you disagreed with your manager. What transpired?
  6. Reflect on a time when you didn’t get along with a colleague. How did it impact your work?
  7. Share an occasion when you were unprepared for a presentation or a meeting. How did you handle it?
  8. Have you ever had to adapt to an entirely new system at work? Explain how you navigated this transition.
  9. Describe a situation when you took the initiative at work. What were the results, and how did your colleagues react?
  10. Tell me about a miscommunication with a co-worker. What measures did you take to prevent such occurrences in the future?
  11. Narrate the most stressful work-related situation you’ve experienced and how you managed it. Would you approach similar problems differently now?
  12. Share a challenging problem you had to solve at work.
  13. Have you ever discovered a mistake made by a co-worker? How did you address it?
  14. Recall a time when you made a work-related mistake. Who found out, and what actions did you take to rectify it?
  15. Describe a situation where you had to make a split-second decision. What was the outcome, and would you choose differently with more time?
  16. Reflect on a time when you regretted a work-related decision. What would you do differently now?
  17. Tell me about a situation where doing the right thing negatively affected you or your career. Would you make the same choice again?
  18. Consider a time when you went against your better judgment at work. How would you respond in a similar situation today?
  19. Recall an instance when someone personally criticized your work. How did you handle it?
  20. Share a time when you were managing multiple projects simultaneously. How did you prioritize your tasks?
  21. Describe a situation where you persuaded someone (a colleague, supervisor, or customer) to see things from your perspective. Was the outcome successful?
  22. Narrate an experience where you were part of a team you didn’t particularly like. What caused your dislike, and how did you cope with it?
  23. Reflect on when you struggled to balance your personal and work life. What steps did you take to navigate through it?
  24. Discuss a situation where you had to engage in problem-solving at work.
  25. Share a time when you felt the urge to quit. What motivated you to persevere and continue?

These questions help candidates demonstrate their problem-solving, interpersonal, and adaptability skills, providing valuable insights for hiring decisions.

Your ATS and The Interview Procedure

When interviewing and selecting the right candidate for your job openings, leveraging an applicant tracking system (ATS) or recruiting software can make the process considerably smoother. These tools enable you to screen and evaluate potential candidates swiftly, thus streamlining and expediting the hiring process. It’s important to remember that leaving a position vacant for an extended period can be costly, reinforcing the adage that “time is money.”

DSD Recruitment Software stands out as a leading provider of recruitment and hiring software tailored for talent acquisition professionals, including internal recruiters and corporate HR teams. Our suite of screening and selection tools is designed to help you fast-track your search for qualified candidates. These tools encompass custom workflows, pre-screening questions, interview notes, and an assessment system based on rating and ranking.

As part of our commitment to simplifying the recruitment process, we’re pleased to offer a 15-day trial of our recruitment software at no cost to talent acquisition professionals. This trial provides access to nearly all of our software’s features and functionality, excluding email integration. You can also request a live demo of our recruiting software for a more in-depth understanding. Our account representatives are ready to demonstrate how DSD Recruitment can assist you in securing top talent for your organization.

Additionally, we encourage you to explore our recruitment software pricing page to discover just how affordable DSD Recruitment Software is. We’ve designed our software to be user-friendly yet robust enough to effectively recruit, engage, and hire the best candidates available in the job market. DSD Recruitment is your solution for simplified recruiting software, empowering you to easily build a top-tier workforce.

ATS and Interview Procedure