How best to answer behavioural interview questions
Sign-up to our Newsletter
Behavioural questions are becoming more common in the interview setting. They offer hiring managers a unique insight into your personality and skills, as well as how you approach a variety of scenarios. Do you know how to present yourself in the best possible light?
What are behavioural interview questions?
Queries that focus on your past experiences and how you've handled different scenarios are known as behavioural questions. It's based on the rationale that how you've conducted yourself in the past helps inform your interviewer how you'll perform in the future. Hearing the actions you took, the skills you employed and the results you achieved gives the hiring manager solid examples to help them make a judgement around whether you're the right fit for the job.
There are many common behavioural questions that are asked within an interview, but each company is likely to modify which ones they use. This is because, depending on the company culture and the role they're looking to fill, certain queries are more likely to highlight whether you have the attributes they need than others.
For example, there's no point asking you for an example of where you've worked well within a team if the position you're applying for requires you to work on your own. A question around how you've self-managed in the past would reveal more useful information.
Behavioural interview questions allow potential employers to gauge your skills and personality based on past actions.
Think of behavioural interview questions as an opportunity to connect
These types of questions present an excellent opportunity to create a connection with your interviewer. Stories allow humans to relate to one another. Think of your responses as mini tales that are designed to reveal your personality and develop a rapport with the hiring manager.
Personal details scattered appropriately throughout your response make you more relatable. Behavioural interview questions, also referred to as situational interview questions, provide the best opportunities for doing this. Due to their nature, they allow you to show who you are in a way that traditional questions don't.
Developing a connection with your interviewer helps make you more memorable when they go to review potential candidates.
Approaching your answer to behavioural interview questions
Use brief, focused anecdotes that demonstrate your soft or hard skills to the hiring manager. The short stories you tell should showcase your strengths, any growth that you achieved, or your ability to manage and overcome difficult situations.
Don't focus on the negatives. The focus of your behavioural question answer shouldn't be around how unfair the scenario was, but instead on how you rose to the challenge and solved it for positive results.
When preparing your response, make sure you provide:
- The context (C), or background, of the scenario.
- What actions (A) you took within the situation, and why.
- Any results (R) or resolutions achieved.
A clear structure is essential. It's easy to become distracted by superfluous details or trail on without ever getting to the point. In the moment before you answer, take the opportunity to pause and consider what scenario you'll use to best demonstrate the skills they're looking for. Then think about how you'll break it down into CAR.
It can feel awkward, taking a moment to respond. However, your interviewer doesn't expect you to immediately present a perfectly formed answer. It's okay to pause and think through your response.
- Don't use the same scenario for all your responses - Using a range of previous experiences will showcase your skills and personality more than relying on one example.
- Give credit where it's due - In an interview it's tempting to solely focus on your own achievements. After all, you're trying to show you're the right candidate. However, willingly acknowledging how someone else helped you with a success casts you in a better light.
- If you need a moment, take a sip of water - Sometimes questions can stump you. Drinking some water can create a naturally longer lull in conversation, giving you a little more time to consider your response.
- Make sure you're answering the question - Occasionally, you can find yourself halfway through an answer only to realise that the story you're telling doesn't actually provide them with the example they're looking for. Or you're responding to the question you thought they asked, rather than the one they actually posed to you. Either option isn't what you want. Actively listen to what they're asking you, and ask for clarification if you need to.
Prepare different examples so you're not using the same one multiple times.
Preparing for behavioural questions before your interview
Unfortunately, until you begin the interview you won't know what questions they'll ask you. However, you can still do general preparation. By putting time in ahead of the interview, you reduce the chances that a question will take you by surprise, and are likely to improve the quality of your answers. Here are three steps you can take to get ready for any behavioural interview questions you might get asked.
Research the company
Understanding what drives the business and the kind of culture they have gives you an indication of the behavioural traits they're looking for in a candidate. Find out what you can about them. Note down any core values they state, and what they promote as setting them apart from competitors.
For example, if they promote themselves as a friendly, innovative organisation, it's likely that they'll want to know that you have excellent communication skills and a creative nature. From there, you can figure out examples where you've demonstrated these traits.
Review common questions
Knowing what kind of behavioural questions might come your way helps prevent you from being taken by surprise. Read over common interview questions, and run through how you'd respond to them. This helps you practise creating short, sharp and positive answers that use the CAR structure.
Some of the questions you'll likely come across include:
- What's a mistake that you've made, and how did you handle it?
- Have you ever had to give someone constructive criticism, and how did you do it?
- Give me an example of a creative solution you came up with to a difficult problem.
- Have you ever found an error in somebody else's work, and how did you approach getting it fixed?
- What are your processes for approaching and solving a problem?
- Have you ever had a situation where your integrity was on the line, and how did you proceed?
- Describe a time where you worked as part of a team.
- What are three achievements that you're proud of?
Prepare different scenarios
Situational interview questions generally break down into different behavioural areas. These include:
- Problem solving.
Try to ensure you have a range of scenarios that can apply to most of these areas, if not all of them. Depending on the organisation and the role you're applying for, they'll likely focus on a few topics more than others. This is where your earlier research comes in useful. Knowing roughly which areas are most important for them allows you to choose scenarios that will better showcase your appropriate talents in these areas.
The situations you choose should apply to multiple questions. For example, one could demonstrate an achievement, innovative thinking, and great problem solving skills. Whereas another might show your tenacity in the face of a failure, and how well you communicated with others around the problem.
If you want to ace your next interview, reach out to our team at KLC Recruitment. With years of experience helping candidates secure their ideal jobs, we can help you master the art of interviewing.
Back to Articles