How to master behavioural interviews

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As employers refine their recruitment processes, behavioural interviews are becoming increasingly popular. These kinds of interviews give candidates the chance to use examples from their career history to highlight their competencies.

While these interviews can be challenging, they also give you the opportunity to showcase their achievements and valuable transferable skills. Ensuring that you highlight your strengths effectively is key to success.
 

1. Be prepared

Just like any interview, being prepared is key. Take time before the interview to identify examples of specific targets you’ve met or work you’ve done that relates to the job specification. Review the key skills highlighted in the job description for clues as to the type of questions that will be asked at the interview.

Employers want to see specific examples of past work and how you can transfer your skills and experience into the new role. Take the time to consider examples of when you have excelled in previous roles and identify where you have demonstrated the skills the employer is looking for.

2. Practice your answers

In a behavioural interview, you will need to deliver your answers in an articulate, detailed and structured way. You will need to talk the interviewer through your examples, explaining the process used to resolve problems or hit targets.

Many professional roles require excellent organisational and time management skills, along with the ability to handle multiple tasks efficiently and effectively. Think through how your examples highlight these three things before the interview. If your examples don’t highlight these skills you may need for the job, try and pick a different example that will.

3. Take your cues from the interviewer

Listen carefully to the interviewer and consider their body language for clues as to what they are looking for. As you explain your examples, take note of whether the interviewer’s body language or behaviour suggesting a positive response.

You will stand the best chance of success by adapting your answers and behaviours to what you know the interviewer is looking for and presenting them in ways that influence the interviewer.

By taking your cues from the interviewer’s level of formality you can demonstrate that you are paying attention to the situation and positioning yourself in a way to help in whatever way you can.

4. Aim to anticipate your interviewer’s questions

Considering what questions your interviewer is likely to ask is a key part of the preparation process. By considering the likely questions beforehand, you are less likely to be caught off guard and you will be better prepared to give a great answer.

Common questions used in behavioural interviews include:

  • Provide an example of an occasion when you had to work to a tight deadline, while still managing your normal workload.
  • Tell me about a complex project or task and how you made sure to see the task through to the end.
  • Describe a time when you developed a strategy to stay organised and ensure you got all your work done under pressure.
  • Have you ever had to manage multiple projects? How did you manage your time effectively and prioritise your tasks?


5. Be yourself

Although part of a competency based interview is selling yourself, you don’t want to come off as fake or insincere. Professionals can tell when someone is trying too hard to give the “correct” answer rather than a genuine one.

Make sure your answers are relevant, honest and structured to showcase your experience while still letting your personality shine through. Employers aren’t looking for a textbook answer; they want to see the way you interact and how you present your information.

 

After the interview, it is important to do a proper follow-up. Read our tips on how to follow up after a job interview.

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