How to Prepare for a Behavioural Interview

By IRISHA LUHANGA

A behaviour-based interview is one in which an interviewer tries to assess your past performances to get an indication of your future success. The questions usually begin with, “Describe a time when you…” or, “Tell me about a situation where you…” The interviewer is seeking specific examples that demonstrate that you have the skills needed for this job.

It’s important to be prepared for these types of questions. An interviewer can usually easily tell if you’re not—and he’ll assume you haven’t done your homework.

To best prepare for behaviour-based questions, you need to think about those of our experiences that most closely match the skills you’ll need to succeed at this job. It helps to understand exactly what the interviewer is looking for in this position. Spend time researching the company, and learn as much as you can about it. Review the job description, and then come up with relevant examples before the interview and practice relating them as stories. You can also use stories to demonstrate personal character traits in addition to skills and experience.

To turn your examples into organized stories, one common methodology is called the PAR formula. PAR stands for problem-action-result. Begin by explaining the problem or situation you faced. Next, describe the actions you took to solve the problem. Finally, outline the successful results.

Take your time describing the problem – This shows you understand the bigger picture and realize the actions you take can affect the company’s goals and strategies.

When talking about your actions, explain why the situation was challenging—it makes your accomplishments more significant. Be sure to include your most important contributions. Remember that actions speak louder than words. Instead of simply saying you know how to handle a challenging situation, use your story to illustrate how you successfully dealt with one.

Remember that your delivery is as important as the subject matter of your story. You should be comfortable telling the story—it shows that you’re also comfortable with the actions you’re conveying. You want to portray yourself as confident about your abilities and your successful actions.

Naturally, use only examples that show you in a positive light and have a successful outcome. Make sure the interviewer recognizes the results of your actions so that he can understand and appreciate your value to an employer.

Make sure you gave the interviewer the information he was looking for. Ask for feedback. Ask him whether your example addressed his question or whether he would like you to give another example.

Of course, it’s impossible to anticipate every imaginable interview question. But if you spend enough time thinking about relevant examples and rehearsing your delivery, it will make it much easier for you to think on your feet, adapt your examples to whatever questions the interviewer throws at you, and sound confident in your story-telling.

  1. Tell me about one of your biggest projects to date. Talk me through the project, the timelines, budget, team size, client, your role within the team as well as the outcome of the project?

  2. Where in your recent career have you felt the situation to be emotionally charged? Tell me about the experience and your role in it?

  3. Can you take me through a business challenge you faced, where you did not agree with the action to be taken. What did you do and why?

  4. What can people expect from you in a team from a character perspective? Why is this the case? Please give me an example.

  5. Tell me about a time where you played an important part in creating a business vision and strategy. What was your role and why did you choose this role?

  6. In your recent career where have you had the most influence over the business, what was the influence and how did it play out?

  7. Tell me what your staff think about your performance.

  8. What would you consider your 2 greatest achievements in your career? Why is this and take me through it? (people, complexity, financial)

  9. In your last role what were the business measures of success for you? How did you perform against each one of these; your opinion and theirs?

  10. Talk me through some of the people you have got along with famously at work in the past and others where you really struggled to build a connection.

  11. Describe a time to me where people did not buy in to one of your ideas, what happened?

  12. What drives your energy daily?

  13. Where have you felt most fulfilled in your career, what was it about that time that fulfilled you?

  14. When have you left the biggest impression in business in the past?

  15. Where have you made a business decision that has an adverse effect on the people around you?

  16. Tell me about the toughest time for you at work, where you felt out of control? What happened?

  17. Where have you felt that you have contributed beyond what was expected in the past?

  18. Where would a key stakeholder have experienced you over delivering on their requirements in the past?

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