Behavioural Interviews


Behavioural Interviews (also known as Competency Based Interviewing) has become common place in many aspects of the recruitment market. Behavioural interviews help the interviewer determine just how you may perform in future situations based on past performance. These assessments are made by asking you specific questions in which you are expected to provide answers based on actual situations you have faced in the past (usually work based).

How to approach behavioural interviews...

The interviewer will be expecting factual answers, so it's important that you focus on an actual event and do not provide answers in a generalised form. A useful tip is to think of your responses as a type of story - being careful not to ramble and sticking to the facts. Make sure that your responses focuses on your positive attributes learned from those experiences, and not the negative situation that surrounded you.

Using the "S.T.A.R" approach

The "S.T.A.R approach" is tried and tested model from which you can structure you interview answers. By using the "S.T.A.R" method, you'll find yourself being able to give concise answers based on real life situations.

Situation Task:
Give the interviewer some background information on an actual event that took place in which you were faced with a specific challenge relating to the question they are asking.

Action you took:
Describe what action you did to address the situation, problem or challenge faced.

Provide a positive overview on what happened and the results of the situation, and what experience you gained from this event. It is important that avoid negativity and avoid blaming others. Try to put forward positive learning experiences.

Points to remember

  • More often than not, you can use the same 4 or 5 examples challenges and achievements in your past working history, and adapt these to each interview.
  • Always keep focused on a past situation (STAR) and never provide answers in general - it's not about what you "would do" but what you "have done".
  • Answers can be tailored to provide excellent examples of you value-add skills if you practice you responses.
  • The key to success is practice, practice and more practice.


Can you tell me about a time when you had to handle conflict?
Think of examples when you had conflict on the job and how you resolved them successfully. If the conflict was with another person or a client, refrain from speaking too negatively about them i.e. "there was conflict because they had a bad attitude” shows limited scope in your understanding of a situation. Think of specific and positive learning examples and tell the story in a concise, clear way.

Give an example of a time when you went above and beyond your required job?
Try your best to tell a story of where you worked outside of your job description. Explain how your actions received specific results, for example how those extra sales calls enabled your company to reach its quarterly goals. Whenever possible, use actual numbers and instances.

What is your greatest failure and how have you learned and grown from it?
This question shows employers that you are someone who can take a failure and turn it into a growing experience i.e. a positive. Everyone has failures in life, but how you handle them will demonstrate to the interviewer that you are open minded, and will learn from past experience.

How would you handle having too many projects to complete in one day, knowing you would not be able to finish them all?
The interviewer wants to learn something about your integrity and responsibility on the job with this question. If you answer that you would try to hurry through each task to get it done, this makes you look sloppy and careless. They want to see that you are honest with your supervisor and able to prioritize tasks to get the most pertinent tasks done first and done correctly. It's also a fair comment to seek help and assistance, rather than drown in a sea of work that you can't complete. 

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