Behavioural Interviews

Wall Street Journal – Counter Offer Advice

Behaviour-based interviewing is increasingly being used by large corporate companies to screen job candidates. Therefore for candidates performing well in behaviour based interviews is becoming important.

Behavioural interviewing has become more popular because company management believe that if you want to understand someone’s future performance then look at their past performance as this is very predictive. Behavioural-based interviewing provides more objective information than traditional interviewing methods. Behavioural interviewing is much more probing and works very differently.

In a traditional job-interview, you can usually get away with telling the interviewer what he or she wants to hear. When you start to tell a behavioural experience then the interviewer can probe and get to the specific behaviours and thought processes using questions like ‘how did you come to that decision or what was your thought process behind that. In this process insight into the candidates’ behaviour traits both bad, good and interesting are revealed as well as inconsistencies and untruths.

In these types of interviews the interviewer typically understands the behaviour required to be successful in the position and he then formulates questions that are aimed at giving him the insights he needs to determine if your (the candidates) behaviour profile is a good fit for the position. These questions often ask you to describe past experiences or situation when “this’ happens.

This process therefore yields more objective information and a deeper feel for the candidates’ behaviour and in the end puts the interviewer in a better position to determine the candidates’ potential and fit for the position. 

The employer then structures very pointed questions to elicit detailed responses aimed at determining if the candidate possesses the desired characteristics. Questions (often not even framed as a question) typically start out: "Tell about a time..." or "Describe a situation..." Many employers use a rating system to evaluate selected criteria during the interview. 

If you have an interview that is going to be a behavioural style interview then you really need to do research and understand the company culture and values. It would also help a lot if you researched the position and understood the typical qualities of a person succeeding in such a position. If you are able to understand what the interviewer is looking for and you can give detailed answers then you will do well and better than those that understand in general terms.

To make sure your answers are clear, think and talk from the situation or problem to the action you took and then to the outcome. 

There are a large number of possible behavioural questions you might be asked. Collect a few of your best stories as preparation for these interviews and then use only ones that are most relevant and adapt them as necessary. What you need to do is to begin forming a mental outline.

Knowing what kinds of questions might be asked will help you prepare an effective selection of examples. 

Remember that many behavioural questions try to get at how you responded to both positive and negative situations. Try and have at least some examples where made the best of the situation and with a positive outcome ready. Think in terms of examples that will talk to the client requirements and exploit your top selling points.

Review your CV and know it well before a behavioural interview. 

In the interview listen carefully to each question, then pick an appropriate experience and then describe how you demonstrated the desired behaviour. With practice, you can use a small set of examples to respond to a number of different questions. 

Behaviour Based Interview Questions

Here is a sample behavioural-based interview questions: 

  • Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way. 
  • Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  • Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone's opinion.
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
  • Please discuss an important written document you were required to complete.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  • Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision.
  • What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
  • Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).
  • Tell me about a difficult decision you've made in the last year.
  • Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish and failed.
  • Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.
  • Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
  • Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.
  • Tell me about a time when you delegated a project effectively.
  • Give me an example of a time when you used your fact-finding skills to solve a problem.
  • Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem.
  • Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
  • Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision.
  • Please tell me about a time you had to fire a friend.
  • Describe a time when you set your sights too high (or too low).

Situational interviews are similar to behavioural interviews. The only difference is that behavioural interviews are concerned with past experience while situational interviews focus on a hypothetical situation i.e. How would you handle this situation?

More Interview Advice

Interview Advice
One to One Interview
Panel Interview
Screening Interviews
Telephonic Interviews
Behavioural Interviews
Sample Interview Questions
What Employers Look For