Behavioural Interview Questions Explained

By: ©Andrew Reed


Behavioural interview questions, also called situational, are used as a tool in job interviews to discover how your past performance in a previous job may contribute to your future performance in the role being recruited for.

Behavioural interviewing is becoming increasingly common and is used by many large organisations such as BT, Accenture and many of the large banking organisations. The basic theory is that past behaviour in work related situations can be used as a predictor of future performance and studies have shown this technique to be about 5 times more accurate than traditional interview questions.

When using behavioural interviewing techniques the interviewer will ask open-ended interview questions relating to your behaviour in past situations and will try to match these with the pre-set requirements of the role. Behaviour based interview questions require you to provide specific examples of what you have done in the past and usually take the form of:

* Tell me about a time when you.
* Give an example of a situation you found yourself in and what did you do.
* Describe a situation which caused you problems and how you resolved it.

These questions are designed to gather detailed evidence and you will find that once you have given your answer the interviewer will probe deeper and may pick certain aspects of your answer to investigate further. Be prepared for questions such as:

* How exactly did you do that?
* Tell me exactly what steps you took to resolve that
* What was the basis for that decision?

By delving deeper into the detail of your answer the interviewer knows that it becomes very difficult for you to sustain a fabricated story.

As a candidate, we recommend that you choose answers based on real experiences that you have had and be ready to give details. Your analysis of the job description and research of the company will have helped you get a good idea of the key competencies of the job and the culture of the organisation. This will help you to anticipate the types of questions you will be asked in the interview.

Your response needs to be relevant and sufficiently detailed. Be specific and tell a story. We recommend that you use the following structure:

* Describe the situation or problem
* Talk about the part YOU played in discovering the problem
* Describe what YOU did to resolve it, the actions YOU took
* Detail the successful result and use figures to illustrate

It may seem impossible to prepare for a behaviour based interview because of the huge variety of behavioural questions you might be asked. However this is not the case. Each job will have a limited number of competencies and the interviewer will have selected behavioural interview questions to target each of these competencies. You will be asked questions about achievements shown on your resume/cv and the best way to prepare is to have a detailed answer relating to all these achievements using the structure above. You will find that even if the exact question is not asked you should have sufficient resource of answers to answer most of the behaviour based questions you can be asked in the interview.

© 2006 Andrew Reed. All rights reserved. Visit us on the web at http://www.blueskyinterviews.co.uk