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Definitions: The behavioral interview technique is used by employers to evaluate a candidate's experiences and behaviors in order to determine their potential for success.?

"The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour"

Behavioural Interviews are very common today. Behavioural interview questions are designed to find out how you would react (or have reacted) in specific situations. The idea is that past behaviour is a good predictor of future behaviour. You must be prepared for some of these questions; they are often quite difficult to answer well without preparation.

A behavioural interview is one of the methods recruiters use to establish your potential to succeed. In the majority of cases, the company will prepare specific questions for you to answer. The answers you give will then be used to determine your potential and your ability to perform the role you are applying for.

The "behavioural interview" is based upon the premise that past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour.

The central role of interviewing in most selection processes demands that the interviewer is skilled to collect the most relevant and valid behavioural examples from candidates to

Behavioural interviews are commonly used by larger international companies to get a better sense of how a candidate approaches tasks and solves problems. This type of interview usually focuses on a number of individual 'behaviours' or 'competencies' that the company has identified as being particularly important for the job. These competencies would include teamwork, creativity, persistence, communications and so on.

The technique that the interviewer uses is to ask the candidate to describe situations that they have actually experienced. For example, if they want to examine the issue of teamwork they might ask you about your best team experience and why you consider it the best.

The basic idea is that past performance determines future performance and if you have strong teamwork capabilities or tendencies this will come through when you describe your best team. A candidate who prefers to work alone will find it difficult to think about and describe an effective team.

The Behavioural Interview - Some Tips

The interviewer asks specific questions about a candidate's skills, character and preferences based on examples of past behaviour. During the behavioural interview, questions are directed towards specific experiences. Some examples are shown below:

"Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult person at work."

"What proactive steps have you taken to make your workplace more efficient and productive? Specifically describe a policy, project or system you created or initiated."

"Describe a high pressure situation you had to handle at work. Tell me what happened, who was involved and what you did in terms of problem solving."

"Some situations require us to express ideas or opinions in a very tactful and careful way. Tell me about a time when you were successful in this type of situation."

Helpful Hints:

The key in behavioural interviewing is to paint a picture of the reasons and think about the decision or behaviour without bringing in unessential details. It is expected that forming an answer will take time. Think your examples through.

Be aware of the tendency to become too relaxed and reveal information that you didn't intend to share. You need to do your part to foster the conversational tone, but don't become so relaxed that you start straying from the point. Be friendly and remain professional.


Behavioural interviewing is a structured interview style based on the premise that ?past behaviour predicts future performance.? Many employers use this interview style. As an increasing number of employers are starting to recognize its value, the behavioural interview is growing in popularity.

The Behavioural Interviewing Technique is being used by most reputable organizations.

Interviewers using this technique will ask questions to draw out examples of situations that you have encountered and how you handled them. Prior to the interview, your prospective employer has already identified the skills necessary for the position. The interview questions are then carefully designed to probe into your experiences. The goal of the interviewer is to determine if your skills are the best match for the position.

Sample Behavioral Interview Questions

One of the keys to success in interviewing is practice, so we encourage you to take the time to work out answers to these questions using one of the suggested methods, such as the STAR approach.

Here is one list of sample behavioral-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).

STAR Technique for Behavioral Job Interviews:

One strategy for preparing for behavioral interviews is to use the STAR Technique, as outlined below. (This technique is often referred to as the SAR and PAR techniques as well.)

Situation or

Task Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand. This situation can be from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.

Action you took Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did -- not the efforts of the team. Don't tell what you might do, tell what you did.

Results you achieved What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?

Employers use the behavioral interview technique to evaluate a candidate?s experiences and behaviors so they can determine the applicant?s potential for success. The interviewer identifies job-related experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities that the company has decided are desirable in a particular position. For example, some of the characteristics that few companies looks for include:

Critical thinking

Being a self-starter

Willingness to learn

Willingness to travel




Here's a good way to prepare for behavior-based interviews:

Identify six to eight examples from your past experience where you demonstrated top behaviors and skills that employers typically seek. Think in terms of examples that will exploit your top selling points.

Half your examples should be totally positive, such as accomplishments or meeting goals.

The other half should be situations that started out negatively but either ended positively or you made the best of the outcome.

Vary your examples; don't take them all from just one area of your life.

Use fairly recent examples. If you're a college student, examples from high school may be too long ago.

Try to describe examples in story form and/or PAR/SAR/STAR.

What's behind behavioural interviews?

Good behavioural interviews are put together after careful on the job research. The recruiter "benchmarks" top performers in a role, isolates in detail the competencies required to perform that role, then writes questions to allow the interviewee demonstrate those competencies.

How are you assessed in a behavioural interview?

You are judged on the "quality" of the example you provide. Under each competency there's a set of behaviours that the recruiter will mentally, if not physically, be ticking off as you answer each question. You may be asked the same question in different ways to verify that your skills are well developed and that you've used them consistently.

However if you find coming up with the examples easy, then you're likely to be a good fit

List of typical behaviors that employers might be trying to get at from job-seekers in a behavior-based interview:

Desired Behaviors:







Development of Subordinates














Planning and Organizing

Rapport Building

Risk Taking


Strategic Analysis
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