Behavioral Interviews

A behavioral interview is one in which the interviewer relies on observation to judge the skills and qualifications of the candidate. This observation includes having the candidate relate facts and experiences, as opposed to broad concepts and hypothetical situations, which the interviewer can probe to identify specific actions or behaviors. Reviewing these questions will help you prepare for such an interview.



What Is Behavioral Interviewing?

Behavioral interviewing is an interviewing technique based on the idea that past performance is the best indicator of future performance. Behavioral interviewing helps the interviewer develop a profile of actions that a candidate will likely display on the job. It explores not only skills and knowledge for the job, but also the personal and performance attributes needed to succeed.

In a behavioral interview, the interviewer relies on facts and direct observation to evaluate the candidate. The interviewer requires interviewees to share situations in which they may have shown particular behaviors such as leadership. This interview style limits the effect of personal impressions on the overall evaluation. It provides structure to the interview process.

What Makes Behavioral Interviewing Different from Traditional?

Instead of asking how a candidate would behave in a hypothetical situation, the interviewer asks how the candidate behaved in a past situation. The interviewer can structure the interview to concentrate on areas that are important to the employer, not necessarily to the candidate.

In the behavioral interview, the interviewer can question and probe candidate responses. Candidates usually have to talk more and provide greater detail. The interviewer can target specific information and be more interactive with the candidate. The interviewee may have less control over telling prepared stories. Be aware that interviewers are likely to take notes.

  • Evaluate your background to identify skills and experience. Develop some brief scenarios that illustrate specific skills such as an experience while working in a restaurant that shows interpersonal skills or interaction with a difficult customer.
  • Think of relevant situations that reflect actions.
  • Consider positive and negative experiences. Your ability to handle failure may also be probed.
  • Be specific about a situation. Avoid generalizing or talking about several events.
  • Include the outcome of an action. This outcome should reflect favorably on you.
  • Concentrate on actual performance and avoid downplaying or embellishing behavior.
  • Consider each question and take time before answering.

Sample Behavioral Interview Questions

  • Give an example of an important goal you set and tell me about your progress in reaching that goal.
  • Describe a time when you failed at something and how you responded.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work on a team with someone you did not like. What happened?
  • Have you ever been involved in a team project when you had to take the lead or take charge of the project? What did you do?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work through a crisis situation in a team setting.
  • Give an example of a time when you had to make a relatively quick decision.
  • Give an example of a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty to get a job done.
  • Tell me about a time when you were leading a team, and one member was not pulling his or her own weight. What did you do?