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Behavioral Interview

What is a behavioral interview?

Definition: A behavioral interview is a hiring process method that focuses on understanding a candidate’s past behavior in professional situations as a predictor of their future performance and behavior in similar circumstances.

Unlike traditional interviews, which may concentrate on hypothetical situations or require candidates to state what they would do in a given situation, behavioral interviews delve into what candidates have actually done in the past. The core idea is that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, especially in similar job-related scenarios.

Key Elements of Behavioral Interviews:

  • Specific Examples: Candidates are asked to provide specific examples from their past work experiences where they demonstrated particular skills or behaviors.
  • STAR Method: Candidates are often encouraged to structure their responses using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to give a comprehensive overview of the situation they were in, the task they needed to accomplish, the action they took, and the result of their actions.
  • Competency-Based: Questions are designed to assess specific competencies that are crucial for the role being applied for, such as leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, communication, and adaptability.
  • Detailed Responses: Interviewers look for detailed responses that provide insight into the candidate’s thought processes, decision-making skills, and how they handle challenges and work with others.

Examples of Behavioral Interview Questions:

  1. “Tell me about a time when you had to work closely with someone whose personality was very different from yours.”
  2. “Describe a situation where you faced a significant challenge at work. How did you overcome it?”
  3. “Give me an example of a goal you reached, and tell me how you achieved it.”
  4. “Share an instance when you had to make a difficult decision without all the necessary information. What did you do?”
  5. “Tell me about a time you led a team through a difficult project. What was your strategy, and what was the outcome?”
  6. “Describe a situation where you faced a significant obstacle to achieving an objective. How did you overcome it?”
  7. “Tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult decision without all the necessary information.”
  8. “Give me an example of a leadership role you have taken in a team project. What was the outcome?”
  9. “Tell me about a time when you had to lead by example to motivate your team.”
  10. “Give an example of a time when you had to adapt to a major change at work. How did you handle it?”
  11. “Tell me about a time when you had to adjust your work priorities to meet changing demands.”
  12. “Describe a situation where you had to explain a complex concept to a client or colleague. How did you ensure they understood?”
  13. “Tell me about a time when you had to give difficult feedback to a team member. How did you approach it?”
  14. “Give me an example of a time when you had to deal with a conflict within your team. What was the result?”
  15. “Tell me about a time when you had to mediate a disagreement between team members. How did you handle it?”
  16. “Describe a situation where you had to manage multiple tasks at once. How did you organize your time?”
  17. “Tell me about a time when you were under a tight deadline and how you managed to meet it.”
  18. “Give an example of a time when you provided excellent service to a customer. What was the feedback?”
  19. “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer issue. How did you resolve it?”
  20. “Describe a situation where your attention to detail made a significant difference to the outcome of a project.”
  21. “Tell me about a time when you caught a significant error that others had missed.”


Why do we use behavioral interviews?

Behavioral interviews allow us to gain in-depth insights into how candidates have handled various challenges and tasks in the past. This approach helps us evaluate their potential for success in the role, based on real-life examples rather than hypothetical scenarios.

How do we prepare for conducting a behavioral interview?

Preparation involves identifying the key competencies and skills required for the role and developing questions that prompt candidates to share specific, detailed examples of how they’ve demonstrated these competencies in the past. It’s also important to familiarize yourself with techniques for probing deeper into candidates’ responses.

What are some examples of behavioral interview questions?

Examples include:

  • “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult client. How did you handle it?”
  • “Describe a situation where you worked under a tight deadline. What was the outcome?”
  • “Give me an example of a goal you set and how you achieved it.”

How can we ensure that our behavioral interview questions are effective?

Ensure questions are open-ended, specific, and directly related to the essential functions and competencies of the job. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”

What techniques can be used to evaluate candidates’ responses in behavioral interviews?

The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique is useful for evaluating responses by breaking down answers into four components, allowing for a structured assessment of the candidate’s actions and the outcomes of those actions.

How do we avoid bias in behavioral interviews?

Use a standardized set of questions for all candidates applying for the same position, and evaluate their responses using a consistent rating system. Training interviewers on unconscious biases can also help minimize their impact on the hiring decision.

Can behavioral interviews be used for all types of positions?

Yes, behavioral interviews can be adapted for any level of position by tailoring the questions to assess the competencies and skills relevant to the specific role.

How should candidates be prepared for a behavioral interview?

Inform candidates about the format of the interview in advance, including the focus on past behaviors and achievements. Encourage them to reflect on their experiences and be ready to discuss specific examples in detail.

How do we integrate behavioral interviews into our overall hiring process?

Behavioral interviews should be one component of a comprehensive hiring process that may also include skills assessments, situational interviews, and other evaluation methods to provide a well-rounded view of the candidate’s abilities.