How to Succeed During a Behavioral Interview
Hcareers / NOVEMBER 11 2020

Behavioral interviews attempt to predict your future on-the-job behavior based on your past on-the-job (and other) behavior. Using the theory that you’re likely to repeat behaviors from previous jobs at new jobs, questions are designed to have you illustrate how you acted (or reacted) in the past.

What Are Behavioral Interviews? 

During a behavioral interview, job candidates are typically asked to provide examples of how they’ve handled work-related situations. The interview will be able to get insights into the candidate’s experiences and character. 

Many employers think this type of interview increases the chances of finding a successful and well-balanced candidate. The interviewer during these interviewers will expect candidates to demonstrate their experiences and skills by giving specific examples from their previous work, school, or life. 

The three things interviewers are trying to learn during a behavioral interviewer are:

  1. They want to know how you behaved in a real-world situation
  2. They want to understand the measurable value you added during a situation 
  3. They are trying to learn how you define experiences 

What Should You Expect During a Behavioral Interview?

The interviewer will plan ahead what competencies are important to be successful in the job position and develop questions that will highlight if a candidate has those skills. Many behavioral questions are to highlight soft skills that candidates have, such as problem-solving, interpersonal skills, listening skills, etc. 

Listen for questions that start with “Tell me about a time when…” or “Give me an example of…”

How to Prepare

Read the job description carefully and make a list of the top skills or qualifications. Think of a real-life example that demonstrates your ability in each area. Utilize the STAR technique when planning your answers, including the situation, task, action and result. Try to keep your answers to a 1-2-minute story. 

Here are several examples of questions you might be asked during a behavioral interview: 

  • Give an example of a difficult problem you solved. How did you solve it? 
  • Tell me about a time you learned a new skill. How did you approach it and how did you apply it? 
  • Can you tell me about a challenge/conflict you overcame at work? 
  • What is your proudest professional accomplishment and why?
  • Talk about a time when you had to work closely with someone whose personality was very different from yours 
  • Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with the situation? 

Using the STAR Technique  

As stated above, the STAR technique stands for: 

  • Situation: What is the context of your story? Tell the listener when or where the event took place. 
  • Task: Discuss the problem or issue you were resolving or the task you were asked to complete. What was your role in the situation?
  • Action: Discuss the steps you took to address the problem or complete the task. 
  • Result: Discuss what happened as a result of your actions.

Here is an example answer using the STAR technique: 

Q: Tell me about a time you stepped up at work to help other colleagues 

A: “At my previous job, on a busy Friday night, we were shorthanded and working without an expeditor. Someone needed to fill that role during the shift so orders would go out correctly and efficiently. I decided to step up in the role because I am able to shift gears quickly and understand what’s needed at the moment, I am comfortable with taking on new responsibilities and roles. We were able to get through the bust shift with little disruption or added stress in the front or back of the house.”

The follow-up questions may also be pretty detailed. You might be asked how you felt or what you said during the situation. Remember to practice your answers ahead of time to feel confident and not have to try to remember any details or situations on the spot during the interview.