Dealing With Behavioral Based Interview Questions

Similar to competency based interviews, behavior based interviewing is a technique based on the premise that your past performance is the best indicator of how you might perform in the future.

During these types of interviews, employers will be focused on how you behaved, reacted and performed in past activities. They do this in order to get a feel of how you would do under the conditions in the position being offered.

In these types of situations it’s extremely important to be familiar with the qualities & skills the employers are looking for in the position you are applying for.

Behavioral questions are designed to get you to describe situations where you showed the skills, attributes and attitudes that they are looking for.
If you can figure out what these skills & qualities are specifically before your interview you can prepare yourself to succeed. These qualities will of course depend on the position that you’re applying for.

Some tips:
•Practice out loud how you will answer the behavioral based interview questions
o Your responses should have a clear beginning middle & end
• Research skills & qualities needed for the position your applying for
• Vary the examples you give in your responses – don’t just talk about 1 project
• Use recent examples
• Strong communication skills, leadership skills, being a quick learner, problem solving, taking initiative and being flexible are general example of qualities that most interviewers are looking for regardless of the position.

In order to form a solid answer for a behavioral interview questions you should use the STAR model. Using this model will help you stay on track with your answers and make sure that you cover all necessary areas.

Situation – Start by describe the situation of your example. Include who was there, what you were doing, where you were doing it, when and how.
Task – Go over the task or issue that you had to overcome. Be sure to highlight the problem
Action – Detail the action you took to overcome this issue. Detail your process to arriving at the decision that you made. (For example: “ Because I noticed ___ and from our team discussion I decided to ___ “)
Result – Finish the example but explaining the end result of your action. Be sure to highlight any positive outcomes that occurred thanks to your results.

Example: Tell me about a time where you had to use your communication skills to get a point across that was important to you ( A common behavioral based interview question)

Situation – I was in a board meeting and we were discussing some changes that going to be made in our work place. However if they made these changes, it would have a significant negative effect on my department
Task – Since I was the only one representing my department I had to make sure I did what was in the best interest of everyone in my department. I decided that I would either need to convince the board to reduce the workload or increase the time given to us to complete the task.
Action – I began by sharing my concerns based off numbers. I had done my research in regards to recent productivity in my department and I used this to outline my concerns. I highlighted areas where we could improve and I showed how these incoming changes would negatively effect our improvement.
Result – Because I had backed up what I was saying with something tangible the board graciously considered my request. A week later they decided to split the workload between a few more departments, making the requirements more realistic for us. The fact that I am an organized & prepared employer made it easy for me to get my point across.

Example: Tell me about a time you had to overcome a conflict at work

Situation – I was overseeing a project where we had a limited time to get the job done. I also had two members in my group who were having difficulty getting along.
Task – Because of the limited time we had, I knew we had to put away personal differences and concentrate on the goal. I needed to solve or mitigate whatever issues my two group members were having.
Action – I spoke with each member individually to get a better idea of where they were coming from. I tried to understand the source each side of the story as best as I could. I then got them to sit down together and discuss their issues in a casual manner. I mediated the discussion as they worked to find common ground.
Result – Our team was able to come together and excel at the project. I used my empathy and leadership skills to understand how to approach and rectify the situation. Since both my co workers felt respected by this process they were able to be calm enough to hash out their differences with each other.

STAR model for behavior based interviewing


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