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What is a Behavioural Interview and How You Can Prepare for One

If you go to an interview with an organisation with more than 10 staff or an HR department they will most likely ask that you have a behavioural interview.  These interviews are not set up to discuss your CV, but instead to identify how you actually perform in certain situations.

What is a behavioural interview?

Also known as a ‘situational interview’, these are a common hiring strategy used by companies in order to identify how you might behave given a certain type of situation.

The key to answering the questions in this type of interview well is to talk about a situation that has actually happened to you and follow a good format for answering the question.

A popular way of approaching this type of interview is to use the STAR acronym as a base.

Situation: This is the who, what, where and when of your example.
Task: This is the role you played in the situation and how you turned the situation into an opportunity.
Action: These are the steps you took to solve the problem. This is where you need to paint a concise picture of your involvement.
Result: This is where you summarise what you did and show how the company was better off as a result of your contribution.


Does ‘STAR’ still sound too complex?

Here’s an even shorter way to ace a behavioural interview:

  1. Talk about a situation you found yourself in where you knew there was an issue that needed to be fixed.
  2. Tell what you did in that situation that was over and above what was expected of you. Show that you can think on your feet or do something outside the box that really added value.
  3. Explain the outcome you achieved. This should be something that your boss or the customer was really happy about. The more specific you can be the better.

Check out this video to learn more about this format and see an example answer.

There are some common situations that might be brought up in your interview. As you think of a few scenarios you might want to share in your behavioural interview, also think of how you might cover some of these angles.

  • customer service and dealing with tough customers
  • working in a team
  • time management
  • ability to adapt
  • communication skills
  • motivation and values
  • handling conflict

Overall, to make a great impression you should structure your answers and be prepared.

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