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How to Prepare for a Behavioral Job Interview

Interviews are scary enough without the worry that you’re going to walk into one that doesn’t follow the usual format. The good news is that you can prepare for any kind of interview, you just need to know what to expect. The behavioural job interview is one format that can seem daunting at first. Once you are familiar with what is expected, you will see how easy it is to shine in this type of interview.

What is a behavioural interview?

A behavioural interview is designed to ask you questions about how you have behaved in work situations in the past. Rather than giving you a scenario and asking how you would respond to it, the interviewer will ask you to explain how you have responded to situations in the past. The theory is that past behaviour will often dictate future behaviour, so this is a better way of assessing a candidate's skills and experience.

How does it differ from a more traditional interview?

In a traditional interview, the questions will take a different format. The interview might ask questions like, what are your strengths and weaknesses? Or they might ask, what does a typical work week look like for you? This kind of interview can be helpful if the interviewer is looking for a personality fit rather than specific skills.

In a behavioural interview, the interviewer already has a list of skills and competencies in mind and they want to know that you will be capable of doing the job. The main difference is that they will ask ‘how did you behave’, not ‘how would you behave’.

What kind of questions should I expect?

Behavioural interview questions are typically more probing that traditional questions. They might also be structured in different parts or they might involve follow up questions. Some examples of behavioural interview questions are as follows:

  • Can you tell me about a time where you used logic to solve a problem?

  • Describe a time when you had to make an unpopular decision.

  • Have you ever gone above and beyond for your job?

  • How have you handled conflict within your team in the past?

  • How have you dealt with difficult suppliers or third party vendors?

  • Tell me about a time you had to work under pressure.

  • Give me an example of a goal you have worked towards and how you achieved it.

As you can see, all of these questions are related to real-life situations in the past. They ask for examples of where you have been in a broad situation and then ask you to explain how you handled it.

This type of interview might also include follow up questions. It’s important that you listen carefully and make sure you are answering the question. Don’t just go over the points you have already made. Instead, try to bring something new to the table.

How can I prepare for this?

If you are expecting a behavioural job interview, you should start by making a list of the key competencies and skills that are in the job description. From here, try to make a list of memorable or pinnacle moments in your career that demonstrate these skills the best. 

Remember, the situation doesn’t always have to have a good outcome. In some cases, bad outcomes are unavoidable. What is important is that you can demonstrate what you learned from the situation.

You won’t know the exact questions you are going to be asked, but by preparing a memory bank of useful scenarios, you’ll be ready to sing your own praises no matter the question. There’s nothing worse than your mind going blank before an interview, so having a think about some potential answers beforehand can be incredibly reassuring.

What should I do during the interview?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make during an interview is not answering the question. It’s very easy to do, particularly if you have something you want the interviewer to know. When going into an interview, remember to listen to the question fully. If something isn’t clear, ask for clarification before you launch into your answer.

When you have finished an answer, you might find that your interviewer is writing notes and not responding to you. In this situation, simply ask if they would like you to elaborate. This simple interview technique can prevent you from rambling on just to fill the silence. In most cases, they will have a follow-up question for you. Remember, you shouldn’t be leading the interview, so always wait for their lead.

As a closing note, it’s important for you to remember that there are no right or wrong answers. When an interviewer is using this technique to determine if you have the right skills and temperament for a role, it’s not your fault if you don’t make the cut. A role that you are more suited to will come along soon enough. 

If you’re ready to make a move in your career, you need Live Recruitment on your side. We are a leading recruitment agency specialising in events. We work with candidates and companies all over the country, including Manchester, Leeds, London and Birmingham to help place the brightest talent in the best roles. Get in touch today if you’re ready to skyrocket your career.