Preparing for the Behavioural Interview

By Sharon Graham

The behavioural Interview is not new. It has been around for over 20 years. It is a structured interviewing style based on the premise that “past behaviour predicts future performance.”

Statistics show this approach is much more accurate in predicting a candidate’s ability to do the job than the traditional interview styles. The behavioural interview is commonly used by large and mid-sized organizations with Human Resources departments. Moreover, an increasing number of employers are starting to recognize its value and this approach is growing steadily in popularity for hiring managers.

Interviewers using this approach will ask you specific questions to draw out examples of situations that you encountered in previous roles and how you handled them. Prior to the interview, your prospective employer has already identified the ideal skills necessary for the position. The interview questions are then carefully designed to probe into your experiences and uncover the skills and abilities that you demonstrated in the past. The goal of the interviewer is to determine if your skills are the best match for the position.

You can prepare yourself for a behavioural interview by developing some high-impact stories using the SAR (Situation, Action, and Result) technique.

  • First, describe a specific situation or task that you needed to accomplish or resolve. Provide details such as names, dates, and places to add credibility to your statements.
  • Next, describe the action you took. Discuss what you specifically did to address the situation.
  • Finally, describe the positive results you achieved. Explain how your organization benefited from your actions. If possible, use numbers to quantify your results.

The first step in developing your statements is to brainstorm your background. Review your resume and identify your best accomplishments. When you prepare your statements, consider the characteristics that may be important to your prospective employer such as leadership,
Team building, stress management, initiative, creative thinking, decision-making and problem solving. Develop a variety of examples from your business experience and even from your volunteer work, community service, and academic studies in order to show you in the best possible light.

Prior to the job interview, do your homework. Investigate the company and position, review the job description, and identify specific skills and abilities that you believe the organization will need in the individual that fills the role.

While at the interview, keep your stories concise and interesting and ,where appropriate, use humour to build rapport with the interviewer. Listen carefully to each question being asked and take your time before giving an answer. Behavioural interviews tend to be challenging and require some thought. Select your best statement to highlight the skills and abilities the interviewer is looking to identify in each question. Be relaxed and honest and comfortable with your selections.

Good Luck with your interview and we hope this information is helpful.