If you’ve secured an interview with a construction, engineering or architectural firm then congratulations!

This interview process will help your potential employer get to know you, understand your experience and qualifications, and assess whether you are a good fit for the company. Hiring managers will ask a specific set of questions to learn more about you, and performance-based questions will be asked to understand how a candidate handles certain situations.

In this post, we discuss what performance-based interview questions are and provide samples of some common PBI questions and answers.

What is Performance-Based Interviewing?

Performance-based interviews help the hiring manager to learn all about your previous experience. They are similar to behavioural interview questions in that they require you to go into more detail about a situation you have faced throughout your career.

When an interviewer asks performance-based interview questions, they are looking to see how you handle real-life situations in order to gauge your people skills, drive and determination, teamwork abilities and problem-solving skills.

Performance-based questions are competency-based and are not just used to assess your technical skills, they let hiring managers understand your soft skills too such as leadership and communication skills.

Performance-based interview questions often follow a similar format, which helps interviewers to evaluate applicants fairly.

Performance based interview questions

Questions asked during a performance-based job interview aim to test a variety of skills and you’ll need to answer in the context of actual events. The skills tested will depend largely on the job you’re interviewing for and the sector you’ll be working in.

Questions open with:
  • Tell me about a time when
  • Give me an example of
  • Describe a situation

Examples of common performance questions used in job interviews

  • Describe a situation when you led a team
  • Give me an example of a challenge you faced in the workplace, how did you overcome it?
  • Give me an example of a time you suggested a creative idea in the workplace
  • Tell me about a time when you took a meaningful and specific action to resolve a conflict in the workplace

How to answer performance based questions

When answering performance-based questions, it’s always important to refer back to the STAR method, where you describe a Situation, Task, Action and Result.

The STAR method allows you to share comprehensive details with the hiring manager about how you handled a situation in the workplace, allowing you to highlight how your past behaviour was instrumental in delivering successful results.

The STAR method allows you to structure your answers in a cohesive way to communicate the points you’re trying to make effectively. For every answer you should structure it in the below way:

  • Situation/task – describe the task that needed to be completed or the situation you were in. For example, ‘I led a team of colleagues to a host of new construction projects.’
  • Action – Explain what you did and how and why you did it. For example, ‘We presented our designs to 5 key players in the industry, with the hope of winning their business. Each team member had a specific role in the presentation and we discussed our pitch in a series of meetings.’
  • Result – Describe the outcome of your actions. For example, ‘As a result of this teamwork and my leadership skills, we won the business of all 5 clients.’

Where possible, you want your answers to be relevant to the job description so ensure you tailor your responses to show how your skills match what the employer is looking for.

Why Performance based questions are used in the interviewing process

The primary objective for hiring managers is to assess whether or not you are suitable for the role they’re hiring for, and performance-based interviewing is a great way to do that.

These types of questions are the same for all candidates and focus on job performance. The benefit of asking these questions is to understand how you will fit into the company. These questions require a little more preparation as the interviewer wants to hear you explain a workplace situation that you have encountered and how you reacted to it.

It’s, therefore, vital for you to showcase your skills and talk about yourself in a positive light.


The key to succeeding in performance-based interviews is to prepare answers to the questions in advance. The great news is that this is relatively easy to do.

Firstly, you should ensure that you fully read and understand the job description and the key competencies they are looking for. From this, you can then think of specific examples and times when you have demonstrated each competency.

Try to draw on a variety of experiences throughout your career, or if you are starting out, draw on experiences from your time in education. Familiarise yourself with the STAR method and practice sample questions with a friend or family member.