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January 25th, 2009
Job Interview:Behavioural Interview Questions Explained

Behavioural Interview Questions, also called Situational, are used as a tool in job interviews to discover how your performance in a previous job may contribute to your future performance in the role being recruited for.

Behavioural Interviewing is becoming increasingly common and is used by many large organisations such as BT, Accenture and many of the large banking organisations.

The basic theory is that past behaviour in work related situations can be used as a predictor of future performance and studies have shown this technique to be about 5 times more accurate than traditional interview questions when selecting new employees.

How Behavioural Interview Questions Work

When using behavioural interviewing techniques the interviewer will ask open-ended interview questions relating to your behaviour in past situations and will try to match these with the pre-set requirements of the role.

These Behaviour Based Interview Questions require you to provide specific examples of what you have done in the past and usually take the form of:

  • Tell me about a time when you…
  • Give an example of a situation…
  • Describe a situation…

They are designed to gather detailed evidence and you will find that once you have given your answer the interviewer will probe deeper and may pick certain aspects to investigate further.

Be prepared for follow on questions such as:

  • How exactly did you do that?
  • Tell me exactly what steps you took to resolve that
  • What was the basis for that decision?

By delving deeper into the detail of your answer the interviewer knows that it becomes very difficult for you to sustain a fabricated story.

Help with answering Competency and Behavioural interview questions can be found here.


Tips for Answering Behavioural Interview Questions

We recommend that you choose answers based on real experiences that you have had. Avoid the temptation to invent a scenario or embellish an existing one.

Your response needs to be relevant and sufficiently detailed. Be specific and tell a story and to help we recommend that you use the following structure:

  • Describe the situation or problem
  • Talk about the part YOU played in discovering the problem
  • Describe what YOU did to resolve it, the actions YOU took
  • Detail the successful result and use figures to illustrate

By Andrew Reed

About the Author
Andrew Reed is an experienced interviewer and has developed successful recruitment strategies for large organisations within the Customer Services, HR and Finance sectors.

Catherine Adenle
Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping all career-minded people worldwide to explore their career, manage change and understand how new technologies are changing and enhancing the future of work.
Catherine Adenle
Catherine Adenle

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5 thoughts on “Job Interview:Behavioural Interview Questions Explained

  1. Behavioral and Situational interviews are not the same.
    The Behavioral Description Interview
    In contrast to a situational interview, which focuses on hypothetical situations, a
    behavioral description interview (BDI) focuses on actual work incidents in the
    interviewee’s past.
    Taken from:Managing Human Resources, 14e, Bohlander/Snell – © 2007 Thomson South-Western

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