Graduate in training

Behavioural Interviewing

Behavioural Interviewing

Behavioural Interviewing is common way to conduct interviews. It is based on the premise that past behaviour is the best indicator of future performance in a similar situation. A role specification will be developed and key competencies for the role determined. From these competencies questions are then designed to elicit details of behaviour in past circumstances similar to those you may encounter in the new position.

A competency may be defined as the skills, ability, knowledge and/or experience required to perform tasks.

In order to do well in a behavioural interview it is important to prepare examples of particular situations that you can discuss without having to pause too long for thought. By considering possible questions and answers in advance you will also be able to maximise the positive impressions you make and reinforce your interest in the position.

To anticipate questions you may be asked look at the advertisement or job description and analyse the key competencies. Then think about experiences in your past positions that have demonstrated your skills in these areas.

Some common competencies include:

  • Decision-making

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Leadership

  • Sales ability

  • Initiative

  • Adaptability

  • Time management/prioritising

  • Customer service orientation

  • Tolerance for stress

  • Attention to detail

  • Team orientation

  • Team management

STAR Interview Method 

Behavioural questions generally start with “Tell me about a time” or “Describe a time when” and there are 4 parts to the answer to which the employer is seeking details:

  • Situation – Set the scene and provide the details of the situation

  • Task – Describe your responsibility or role in that situation

  • Action – Explain the specific actions you took to address the situation

  • Result – Describe the outcome you achieved through your actions

You can remember this using the acronym STAR (Situation,Task, Action, Result) and you should ensure that you cover all 4 of these areas when giving your response to a behavioural question. Ensure that you demonstrate how you used your skills to deal with the situation and what the outcome was as a result of your actions/behaviours.

Some sample behavioural questions include:

Tell me about a time when you have had to deal with a difficult customer. What did you do? What was the outcome?

  • Describe a time for me when you had to win someone over to your point of view. Was it successful?

  • Tell me about the biggest sale you have ever made.

  • Tell me how you went about sourcing the biggest client you brought into your last company.

  • Tell me about a time when you have done more than required in your job. What was the outcome of this? 

  • Tell me about the most significant contribution you made to your team.

  • Tell me about a time you had to complete an important task on time. What steps did you take to ensure it was done?

  • Describe a time for me when you have felt impatient with a customer. How did you go about handling it?

  • Describe your most frustrating work experience in the past 12 months. What made it frustrating and how did you go about handling it?

  • Describe a time when you wish you had responded differently to a member in your team.

If you analyse the job brief and highlight competencies you think will be inherent, you will be able to think of some working experience responses ahead of time instead of having to ‘wing it’.

Behavioural interviews offer you a wonderful opportunity to show what you have accomplished in your past working experience so that prospective employers can see you as an asset for their future.