I remember my first behavioural interview, unfortunately I was completely unprepared to answer behavioural interview questions and found myself completely out of my depth.
Iv'e since learned a lot about behavioural interviews, having now experienced this style of interview many times.
I eventually trained to recruit my own employees using this style of interview, and have gone on to coach many people through their own behavioural interviews as a recruitment agent and interview coach.
If you're serious about progressing in your career, and you want to work for high-caliber organisations, you need to know how to perform in behavioural interviews.
For example, you would definitely be asked behavioural interview questions in an interview with Google, and most multinational organisations would also use the same style of interview.
In fact, if you’ve missed out on job opportunities in the past, there’s a chance it was because you were unprepared for a behavioural interview and had not learned to answer this style of interview question.
In this article I’m going to explain what behavioural interviews are, provide you with a list of behavioural interview questions, and explain exactly how you can prepare for behavioural interview questions and answer them confidently. By the end, you'll be ready to face any behavioural interview situation head on, and hopefully land yourself a great role in an awesome organisation.
What is a behavioural interview?
A behavioural interview is simply a type of interview style.
In a behavioural interview interviewees are asked pre-prepared and structured questions, questions that are designed to make people draw on past experiences, providing examples that demonstrate important behaviours or competencies.
What's good about behavioural interviews?
Although behavioural interviews can be challenging, there are a lot of benefits to this interview style.
Behavioral interviews not only benefit the interviewer, they also benefit you, the interviewee.
Let's look at why behavioural interviews are often better.
Behavioural questions reveal a lot about you
The basic premise goes something like this; knowing how you performed in a past situation gives the interviewer a good idea of how you’re likely to perform when faced with a similar situation in the future.
For example, the way in which you handled a conflict situation in the past, is quite likely to be indicative of how you’ll handle conflict in the future.
As you can imagine, behavioural questions give the interviewer a much better sense of you as a potential employee. Your interview answers give them an insight into how you work and how you’ll perform if they were to hire you into their organisation.
A typical behavioural question will go something like this;
• 'Tell me about a time when you…’
• ‘Give us an example of when you have…’
Behavioural interviews are fairer
The great thing about behavioural interviews is that they are much more objective.
All candidates are asked the same questions and being scored in the same manner.
Behavioural-based interviewing is a much fairer and more transparent means of assessing candidates, their capabilities and their fit for an organisation.
Not only do behavioural questions reveal competencies and skills, they also provide a pretty accurate assessment of cultural fit.
Behavioural interviews lead to better hiring decisions
In a behavioural interview you can’t just tell the interviewer that you are great at handling conflict, you actually have to demonstrate your conflict handling abilities with a real example from your past.
Needless to say, companies experience a higher success rate as a result of using competency-based questions
Behavioural interviews allow you as the candidate to sell yourself better
From your perspective as a candidate, behavioural interviews are a great opportunity to demonstrate the difference that they can make to an organisation. Although behavioural questions can be daunting, it is actually easier to perform well in this style of job interview.
This is because you know exactly what to expect, you can prepare in advance and master techniques, such as the star method, that provide you with a framework by which to structure your answers. We’ll talk about this in more detail later in this article.
What behaviours are assessed in a behavioural interview?
Behavioural interviews are often referred to as competency interviews because they are essentially assessing your grasp of certain key competencies. These competencies are likely to be considered essential for success in the role for which you are applying. Of course, this means that certain roles will have quite unique requirements.
For example behavioural interview questions for software developers might be different from behavioural interview questions for product managers. However, having said this, there are some competencies or behaviours that are common across many roles and so you should be prepared for them.
10 competencies that are assessed in most behavioural interviews
• Handling Conflict
• Problem Solving
• Critical Thinking
• Project Management
• Decision Making
• Collaboration and Team Work
How should you prepare for a behavioural interview
Preparing for a behavioural interview comes down to three things:
• Understanding the role for which you are interviewing, and which competencies are likely to be required
• Preparing examples from your past that adequately demonstrate these competencies
• Structuring your answers and examples properly so that you can deliver them articulately and succinctly in your interview
Let's explore each of these three points in more detail.
1. Understand the role you are interviewing for
Think about the role you are interviewing for and begin to list out the competencies that you’ll need to possess in order to perform well if you get the job. A leadership role might require different competencies than a sales role, for example.
Begin to list out these competencies and rank them in order of importance. You’ll want to start preparing for the crucial competencies first and afford them the most time and attention.
In our dedicates guide you’ll find printable worksheets to help you with this process.
2. List the examples that you'll use in your job interview
Think back through your career and begin to make note of challenges you have overcome and successes that you have enjoyed. It may help to have your CV at hand in order to jog your memory. If you’re someone who has kept a record of your successes, this will be easy for you!
Keep in mind the way that competency questions are structured, they will typically begin with ‘tell us about a time when’ or ‘give us an example of when you’. Remember the competencies that they are likely to be assessing for, and make sure that the examples you choose to use actually demonstrate that you possess those competencies.
3. Use STAR to structure your examples
STAR is a very simple and easy to recall acronym that provides a framework by which to structure your examples and interview answers. Structuring your answers and examples using STAR enables you to provide the interviewer with all the information that they are looking for, in a manner that’s easy to follow and understand.