Firstly, don’t sweat it if your initial reaction was ‘what on earth is a behavioural interview?’ You wouldn’t be the only one, although behavioural style interviewing has become steadily more widespread over the last couple of decades.

Basically behavioural interviewing is a specific technique in which the applicant is asked to describe examples of past behaviour in order to determine whether he or she will be a good fit for a position. The theory goes that the way you’ve behaved in specific work-based situations in the past is the best indicator of how you’re likely to behave in a similar situation in the future.

Employers are looking for answers to things like are you prepared to bend the rules to get results? Can you work under pressure in a team that’s riddled with personality clashes? What style of leadership do you adopt and how do you implement it?

It may sound intimidating, but if you can work on becoming more accomplished in this style of interview it will make you a much stronger interviewee. If you’re unprepared for this style of questioning, an ‘um, um, um’ response is ultimately going to sell you short.

Any recruiter worth their salt will let you know if this style of interview could be a possibility, and if it is on the cards for you it’ll be just like studying for an exam. Thorough preparation will eliminate a lot of the stress surrounding it.

Possible questions might include:

  • Give me an example of a goal you’ve reached
  • Give me an example of conflict in the workplace and how you helped deal with it
  • How have you worked effectively under pressure?
  • Have you ever had to implement a decision that was unpopular?

There are no right or wrong answers, but pre-planning and giving a comprehensive answer will definitely get you a tick in the right box. Specificity is going to be the key here.

The STAR interview technique is a solid and popular method in preparing to tackle this type of interview questioning head-on. When plotting your responses to this sort of questioning, consider this process.

S – think of an appropriate Situation;

T – asses the Task which cropped up within this situation; and

A – what Action was required to fix the problem?

R – the Result of the three steps you utilised above.

When piecing together a specific response, work to the STAR method and think of it as a short story – it needs a beginning (the scene-setting situation and task), a middle (the action taken) and an end (the results). It’s based on your real-life experience, so the details are already in play and shouldn’t be hard to recall – and it’s the detail that will add colour and clout to your response. 

It could be that your answer triggers a couple of additional questions, in which case just answer as truthfully and with as much detail as you can. No fiction, please!

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