Behavioural Interviews – The What, Why and How to Wow!

BY Georgie Wade |

So, you have been invited to an interview - congratulations!  No doubt you’ve spent hours fine-tuning your resume, studying those job boards, working your networks, and crafting cover letter after cover letter just to get to this point. Now you have scored that interview it’s time for more preparation to kick in – preparation to ensure you put your best foot forward and impress at your interview.

In this article we unpack behavioural interviews, exploring what behavioural interviews are, why behavioural interviews are becoming increasingly popular, and how to ace behavioural interview questions.

What is a behavioural interview question?

If, in an interview, you have ever been asked to provide an example or describe a particular scenario and how you reacted it is likely that you have encountered a behavioural interview question. Some interviews may add a couple of behavioural interview questions into the interview, whereas some will centre much of the interview around these types of questions.

Behavioural interview questions are used to assess the candidate against a number of different skillsets including; problem-solving, initiative, communication, organisation and planning, overcoming challenges, adaptability and goals focus.

Some examples of behavioural questions you may be asked include;

  • Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.
  • Provide an example of an occasion when you made a mistake, and what you did to resolve it.
  • Have you handled a difficult situation with a colleague? What happened?
  • Have you gone above and beyond your role responsibilities? If so, how?

Most likely, further questions will follow to probe into more details.

Why use behavioural interview questions?

Behavioural interview questions are becoming more and more popular with hiring managers, and are seen as a great gauge as to how someone will act in a specific situation.  As creatures of habit, it is thought that past actions will help predict how someone will act in future. It is also a great opportunity to explore in-depth the candidate’s skillset and level of experience in dealing with certain scenarios, as well as also ascertaining their self-awareness.

The important thing to remember with behavioural interview questions is there is no one right or wrong answer, and everyone’s answer will be different.  The ideal response will depend on what the interviewer is looking for and the best possible answer will be one which clearly outlines where the behaviour or skills was evident.

How to prepare for behavioural interview questions

So, if there is no ‘correct’ answer then you might be wondering how best to prepare for behavioural interview questions. These tips will help you prepare and feel ready and confident to answer behavioural interview questions should they arise.

  • Review the position description, job advert and selection criteria of the job, this will give you an indication of the skills and characteristics that the company is looking for. Is it described as a fastpaced environment? It is likely they will want to know when you have worked in a similar environment and how you worked effectively with speed whilst maintaining attention to detail. Does the job have lots of tight deadlines? You’ll want to show your planning and organising skills, as well as how you work under pressure.  Carefully reviewing the role information available is your best opportunity to preempt any behavioural interview questions that may come up.
  • Refresh your memory of projects or special circumstances that you have experienced.  Consider what your strengths were in those situations and how you might be able to use those experiences to frame responses.
  • When thinking about your responses, and responding to behavioural interview questions use the STAR technique. It is one of the best ways to structure your answers and outlines the Situation, Task, Action and Results.  You can also use the opportunity to talk about any learnings and what you might do next time.  For more information on the STAR technique check out our article Achieve Interview Success with the Star Technique.

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