Published October 26, 2018
A Guide to Answering Behavioural-Based Interview Questions
In this post
What are behavioural interview questions and why are they used?
Behavioural interview questions revolve around past behaviours, and how they can be a predictor of your future employment and performance to employers. They are one of the most common types of interview questions to be asked during an interview. You can tell it’s a behavioural question rather than, say, a competency-based interview question by whether the questions starts with: ‘Tell me about a time when…’
The key to answering them successfully is to understand what skills you bring to the role and ensuring they’re relevant to the position. The interviewer ultimately wants to know how you handled a situation, rather than just gathering information about you. During the process of a behaviour-based interview question, your employer will have asked the questions having already decided what answers they’re looking for. It’s your job to answer the question by centring your answers around the job description to reflect the role you’re applying for as best as you can to demonstrate that you would be an excellent addition to the workplace.
Behavioural questions are:
More predictive of future on-the-job behaviour
Traditional questions are:
More predictive of future on-the-job behaviour
What are the best behavioural interview techniques?
One of the best ways to answer behavioural interview questions in a job interview to use the S.T.A.R method. This stands for: Situation, Task, Action and Result. This method is key to successfully answering any of these interview questions, and help you organise your response when in an interview. It ties together a situation, how it was handled and what the outcomes was, which is exactly what employers are looking for when they ask these questions.
The STAR Method
This method is excellent to use during a behavioural-based question by providing some great structure to the response to the question you’re being asked. It will allow you to think about a certain situation that may reflect the question and allow you to think about the action or initiative you may have taken to overcome the problem, and ultimately you provide the employer with how your behaviour and response to an issue or situation resulted in a positive outcome.
How to use the STAR Method:
Choose a Situation or Task that you have faced at work
Explain the Action you took to fix the problem
Describe the positive Result you achieved through your actions
Examples of behavioural-based interview questions
Questions in a behavioural interview are often very probing, and your interviewer may press for more and more detail and you may not be able to make up a response as it isn’t as specific as traditional questions which refer to questions such as, “tell me about yourself.” And instead, it may even include questions such as, “what were you thinking at that point,” when referring to a certain situation which will allow the employer to examine your thought process or decision-making or problem-solving skills through the context of your behaviour.
“Give me an example of how you adjusted to a co-worker’s working style in order to achieve your performance”
“Give me an example of a situation when you assumed a leadership role”
“Describe a situation when your experience did not prepare you for a set task and how you dealt with it”
“Tell me about a time when you went out of your way to provide the best possible customer service. What did you do and how did the customer respond?”
Once again, when providing your answer, it’s always best to provide skills and behaviours that are reflected in the job description. For example, if you’re applying for a managerial role, then it would be best to include some aspect of leadership behaviour or communication that you may possess to show the employer that you’re a driven individual and an excellent addition to the job you’re seeking.
By doing this, it can also help to differentiate you from other candidates in a positive way. And so, when answering behavioural-based interview questions, it’s important to do your research on the job you’re applying for as this knowledge can help you centre your answers around demonstrating to your employer why you are an excellent candidate suited to the job. Prepare detailed examples, employers want specifics, not generalisations and always quantify your answers with a positive result or achievement.
Using the STAR method as previously mentioned is an effective way to provide a well-structured answer. Remember that the employer will usually have an idea of what answers they’re looking for before asking the question, and focusing on your behavioural strengths and relating them to the job will be the best way to prove your compatibility for the job you’re seeking.
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