THOUGHT PIECE the carling team

Behavioural Job Interview Tips

notesLast week we wrote about how to survive and shine in competency based interviews, so if you suspect you might have this type of interview ahead of you, our advice will hopefully help. If you haven’t read the article yet, you should!. This week we want to focus on a slightly different interview technique; behavioural job interviews.

What is a behavioural job interview?

Behavioural interviewing is a relatively new style of interviewing but is more and more commonly being used in the hiring of managers in particular because it is deemed to be an accurate way of predicting future behaviour.

The focus in this type of interview is the identification and assessment of your experiences and behaviours in previous encounters and the use of those as a way of predicting future behaviour. The way this type of interview works is that the interviewer identifies the desired skills and behaviours to succeed in the position and then develops open ended questions with a view to eliciting responses based on past work, educational or personal experiences. This type of job interview is commonly evaluated using a rating system.

What to expect during a behavioural job interview

Behavioural job interviews are more structured than traditional interviews and will typically contain questions such as:

  • Describe a time when you….
  • Tell us about a situation when you …
  • Share an experience in which you…
  • Explain your response to a situation in which…

Even if you are unable to respond to these questions with specific work-related experiences, it is important that you dig deep into your school or university life, voluntary work or sporting achievements to find situations that demonstrate your behavioural capabilities.

What is normally under the microscope in behavioural job interviews?

In behavioural job interviews, you can expect your integrity, leadership, initiative, communication skills, problem solving skills, interpersonal skills and adaptability to come under the microscope.

Getting ready for a behavioural job interview

Exactly like competency based interviews, behavioural job interview questions can more often than not be predicted from the job ad, so what you need to do is study the job ad carefully and determine the behaviours that you think the employer will be looking for. The types of things they are likely to be looking for are situations where you have used persuasion; when you have coped well under pressure; an example of a time when you had to implement a policy that you didn’t agree with or when you anticipated a problem and developed an effective, inventive or appropriate solution. More extreme behavioural situations might be situations where you had to sack a friend or colleague you were particularly fond of, or where you had to make an unpopular decision.

Performing like a STAR in behavioural interviews

The tactics used to star in behavioural interviews are much the same as those required in competency based interviews:

  1. Predict the behaviours you might be asked about.
  2. Match your experiences with the behavours required.
  3. Prepare, practice and perfect your responses.
  4. Stay cool, take time to think and don’t forget to breathe!

You can read more detail about each of these here.

The STAR technique for structuring your responses works as well in behavioural interviews as it does in competency based interviews.  STAR stands for:





Here is a good example of an effective STAR question/response

Question put to an account manager in the drinks industry: Tell me about a situation where you had to deal with a customer or colleague who was extremely upset or angry.

STAR response:

Situation (S): I called on a profitable client only to discover that their drinks delivery had not arrived that morning ahead of an event they were holding that same evening. Needless to say the client was extremely angry, disappointed and threatening to move their valuable account to another supplier.

Task (T): My goal was to calm the client; find a solution and do my best to retain the client.

Action (A): I asked the client to give me 20 minutes to find a solution. I was aware that this was a tight time frame, but I truly felt that I couldn’t ask for longer. I called the distribution manager to ascertain the cause of the problem and to find out at what point that morning delivery could be made. I spoke to my direct boss to ask if I could immediately offer the client a promotion that was due to be launched the following month and if so could the promotion be included in the outstanding delivery. Finally, I offered to stay at the client’s premises to oversee the delivery. The whole task took me 13 minutes.

Result (R): I had a result for the client 7 minutes earlier than he had expected; I obtained a delivery time of 2 hours later for the client; I saved him 20% on one of his best selling brands and stayed to (physically) help with the delivery. His event went without a hitch and he ordered a further £2,500 of the promotional product. Against company policy, I gave him my mobile phone number incase the problem should raise it’s head again in the future. That was 9 months ago and he has never had a repeat problem.

In this single STAR response the candidate has demonstrated:

Interpersonal skills



Communication skills

Problem solving skills


While we’re not suggesting in any way that behavioural job interviews are easy to ace, with the right preparation and a bit of prediction and honest creativity, you can certainly stand out in a crowd.

If you have a behavioural interview coming up make sure you prepare and seek advice if you need to. Thanks for reading. Any comments? Please leave them below.