The dreaded behavioural interview questions and how to prepare for them

“Tell us about a time you had to deal with conflict in your team”

During a job interview, it is more than likely that you will be asked a question along these lines. Unlike questions based on your technical skills and experience, these questions are all about how you have reacted to unusual or uncomfortable situations in the past. The idea is that the interviewer can predict how you will handle future situations, based on your past behaviours. These questions tend to be the most challenging part of an interview and are hard to prepare for.

Typically, there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to behavioural questions, however there are certain elements an interviewer will be looking for. We have come up with a few tips to try and tackle those daunting questions.

Stay relevant to the role

Behavioural interviewing is to identify whether you are well suited for the role you have applied for. The types of answers the interviewer will be looking for will be directly related to the position.

Before the interview make sure you review the job requirements carefully and write down a list of top competencies it calls for. For each one think of one or two stories that demonstrate your ability in that area. When it comes to the interview, you will already have some answers prepared with examples of skills that closely match the requirements.

Think of positive examples

When preparing your answers, try and think of positive examples of behaviour rather than negative ones. An interviewer will be looking to understand your attitude towards tricky situations. If your answer is negative, it won’t put you in a good light.

However, sometimes an interviewer may ask you to expand on an example of when you failed, or when there was a negative outcome. In this case, focus on what you learnt from the negative experience and what you would change next time something similar happens.

Use the STAR technique

Keep your examples concrete and engaging. Make sure you capture your interviewer’s attention by keeping your answers concise and focused. An interview answer should be between one to two minutes long.

The key is to use the STAR technique and break down your story into clear parts; Situation, Task, Action and Result.

Situation: Describe briefly the context of your story.

Task: Describe your responsibility in that situation.

Action: Describe what you did to overcome the challenge, or how you completed the task.

Result: Explain the outcome thanks to your actions. You might want to focus on what you learnt and how you could apply this in your next role.

Be confident

And finally, be confident. An interview is your time to shine and stand out from the crowd. Tell your behavioural story enthusiastically, and do not hesitate when giving your answer. An interviewer will be imagining you talking to your team, or explaining something to a customer, and will want to see that you can be affirmative.

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