Behavioral Interview: The Ultimate Guide

The behavioral interview is one of the many different interview types out there. Many job seekers have passed through a behavioral interview without knowing. Even though it is different from the traditional interview type, it is the same in some aspects. In this ultimate guide, we will talk about what a behavioral interview is, how to prepare for it, and some common questions that pop up in this type of interview.

What is a behavioral interview?

The behavioral-based interview is the type where the interviewer assesses the candidate based on their past behavior in various professional situations. In this interview type, the recruiter already knows the skills and expertise they want in a candidate. So they ask questions on how the candidate has used the skills they want in a job role before. This enables them to make hiring decisions on the past behavior of the applicant and not on mere speculations.

A behavioral interview is slightly different from a traditional interview. In the latter, you will be asked questions that require simple answers while in the former, you will be asked questions that showcase your skills from your past experience. However, in both cases, you will sit in front of an interviewer (whether in-person or virtual) to answer questions.

How to prepare for a behavioral interview

Before you go for interviews, you need to prepare well. However, you might not know the type of interview you will be going for. So while preparing for a traditional interview, prepare for a behavioral interview as well. And here is how to prepare for one.

Read the job descriptions carefully

Whether the interview type is traditional or not, one of the recipes for acing an interview is to know exactly what the employer wants. And how do you know this; by reading the job description over and over again. What are the things you look out for;

  • Skills: this is one of the things you should look out for while reading a job description. This will help you gauge whether you have the skill or not. Actually, you are not supposed to apply for a job in that you do not meet at least 80% of the requirement. Matching the skill needed with the one you have will help you prepare a good response to behavioral questions.
  • Personality traits: is another thing you should look out for. Although not all job ads have columns for personality traits they want in an employee. But if you see the one that does, read it well to align your answers to their wants.

Analyze the major project you have worked on

After you have read the job description to know the skills and personality traits the employer wants, analyze the project you have worked on. However, ensure that the project is relevant to the skills and expertise the company needs. For a successful analysis, you should ask yourself these questions; What is the goal or objective of this project? The answer to this question will give structure to your response.

Review your performance and list out your accomplishment 

Now that you have analyzed your major projects, it is time to review your performance on the job. What did you do at the job? How did you work to ensure the goal/objective of the project was met? Answers to these questions will help you know what your performance was while executing the project. Once you know your performance, then make a list of your accomplishments. This means that you should list the end result of the project. Were you able to meet the goal of the project or not?

Be honest and straightforward with your answers

While writing down your answers, make sure you are as honest as you can. Lying to get a job can cost you the job and your reputation if you are found out. So, if you are asked a question about how you dealt with an unbearable boss. Let them know you have never worked with an unbearable boss if you have not. Don’t go and start lying, it does not speak well of you.

Structure your response using the S.T.A.R method

S.T.A.R method is one of the best ways of structuring answers to behavioral interview questions. With this technique, you can create a purposeful story arc and this will help give structure to your response. What does S.T.A.R stand for? S= Situation, T= Task, A= Action, and R= Result.

S (situation): start with what the problem was. Make sure you are as detailed and specific as possible.

T (task): then move to what task you were given.

A (action): list out the steps you took to do the task.

R (result): finish up with the outcome of the project. You should sell yourself while talking about the result of the process. List your accomplishments and own up to them.

Here is how to use the S.T.A.R techniques to formulate your response. Assuming the interviewer asks you this question: ” what was the most challenging role you had to take up?” This is how you will structure your response using the S.T.A.R method.

  • S: Revenues were down due to low sales.
  • T: we had to improve the sale by at least 15%, and I was made the head of the creative team to come up with adverts ideas.
  • A: I looked at the current advert ideas and scraped off some old and ineffective ones. Together with my teammate, we created great visual and effective advert ideas.
  • R: because I scraped off the old ideas and created new ones together with my teammates, sales increased by 5% in two months. And by the end of the quarter, we were able to exceed the 15% sales mark.

Make your response short

While preparing answers to the behavioral interview questions, make sure they are short. Long answers can bore your interviewer and they might lose interest in what you are saying. So keep them below two minutes.

Practice your answers

Make sure you write your answers; this will help you know whether they are flowing well or not.  Once you have given it more structure, ensure that you practice it as well. You should practice in front of an audience like friends or family especially if you are shy. This will help you train your body and mind to answer the questions well when you are in the interview.

Some common behavioral interview questions

While preparing and practicing for common interview questions, here are some common behavioral interview questions you should prepare for as well.

  • Have you ever worked with an unbearable boss? How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about the time you had to work under pressure.
  • Have you ever persuaded your team members to work on a project they were not excited about? How did you go about that?
  • Was there a time you had a conflict with your coworker? How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a mistake you made and how you would have handled it if things were different.
  • Was there a time your schedule was interrupted? How did you react to this?
  • Tell me about an important goal you set for yourself. How did you achieve it?
  • What was the most challenging role you had to take up? How did you handle that?

Final Thoughts

So, here is the ultimate guide on behavioral interviews. I believe you now understand what it is and how you can prepare for it. As a job seeker, you do not know what type of interview you are going for, so make sure you prepare for all types of interviews.


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