BPS - Bio Pharmaceutical Solutions

Behavioural Based Interviewing Strategies

Behavioural-based interviewing is a relatively new tool employed by organisations to assist with selecting the ideal candidate. However, as increasing numbers of employers are using behavior-based methods to screen job candidates, understanding how to excel in responding to this technique is becoming a crucial job-hunting skill.
The theory behind it is that the best predictor of future performance is past performance - "behaviours" tend to be linked to "competencies".
Behavioural-based interviewing is considered to be a far more objective process in decision making compared to other interview techniques. Questions will ask for specific examples of a candidate's behaviour in situations similar to those they will face in the new position. For example, some of the behaviours that may be explored are:
  • Critical thinking
  • Initiative
  • Adaptive to change
  • Planning and Organisation
  • Communication 
  • Teamwork
  • Professionalism
These questions are usually worded in a way that will elicit detailed responses used to determine if the candidate possesses the desired competencies.
For example, they often with a statement like: 'Tell me about a time when...' or 'Describe a situation where...'. A rating system may then be used for a more objective assessment of candidates, based on specifics rather than 'gut' feelings or personal impressions.
As a candidate, you should be equipped to answer the questions thoroughly. Researching the company and talking to people who work there will enable you to identify the kinds of behaviors the company wants. Get a copy of the position description and work out the competencies involved in the job. Start with a visit to the company's website.
Spend time reviewing the range of experiences you have collected from your career. The more thorough your preparation the better your responses will be.
In the interview, your response needs to be specific and detailed. Candidates who tell the interviewer about particular situations that relate to each question will be far more effective and successful than those who respond in general terms.
Use the 'STAR' method to structure your responses:
    • Situation - a brief outline of the situation
    • Task - what tasks needed to be achieved
    • Action - the steps you took to complete the task
    • Results - what outcomes were achieved?
Prepare yourself with a small number of examples that could be adapted to a range of behavioural questions – try to align them with the competencies of the role and the company that you have identified through you research. Think in terms of examples that will exploit your top selling points.
Go through your resume to refresh your memory about your professional history. You can use experiences outside work too such as community service, team participation or sports if it will clearly demonstrate your point. Wherever possible, quantify your results. Numbers always impress employers.
Remember that many behavioral questions try to get at how you responded to negative situations; you'll need to have examples of negative experiences ready, but try to choose negative experiences that you made the best of or -- better yet, those that had positive outcomes.
These are not just times describing how wonderful you are but examples that demonstrate your key strengths as well as times when you have turned a negative situation into a positive result. Review your resume in detail because it is will trigger those memories. Make sure it all matches up and there are no unexplained gaps.
In the interview, listen very carefully to each question – align this to an appropriate description of how you demonstrated the desired behavior. With practice, you can learn to tailor a relatively small set of examples to respond to a number of different behavioral questions.
When you get asked an initial question there may well be follow up questions to probe deeper or test the validity of the knowledge you claim to have gained.
PRACTICE: Choose a selection of questions and role-play with someone else. You can also do what sportspeople do and use visualisation imagine yourself being asked a question and then answering that question.
Related Reading:

See our information sheet on 'Examples of Behavioural-based Interview Questions' for a list of competencies and questions that may arise.

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