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How do Behavioral Interviews Work

Anju Shandilya
A behavioral interview is a widely used evaluation method in the corporate world nowadays. Read on to know what it means, how to prepare for one, and some typical questions to expect.
The concept of a 'behavioral interview' was developed by the industrial psychologists in the 1970s and is built on the principle-the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation.
It allows an individual to demonstrate knowledge, skills, and abilities, that are collectively known as 'competencies'. He needs to provide specific examples from his past experiences to justify what he has said.
Prior to the interview, the interviewer determines the competencies that are required for a particular position, and develops a series of questions that allow him to find out if the interviewee possesses the necessary attributes to perform the job.
In this method, the interviewee will typically be asked questions that begin with "Provide an example of when ... " or "Tell me about a time when ...."These need to be responded with examples of how he or she approached the situation and acted to meet the requirements. 
Another common question asked is "Describe what you have done when the people you were working with, did not get along well with you." This is to judge whether the candidate can work effectively with difficult people.


Although many candidates are intimidated by interviews, it provides them the opportunity to show how well they are suited for the job. Here, you get to explain as to what you did in a real situation, rather than making up a hypothetical one.
Preparing for this interview is complicated and requires resolve. One has to determine as to what competencies the employer is looking for. The best source for this would be the job description. A little bit of research on the Internet and social media would also help.
Some of the common competencies that any employer looks for are communication, teamwork, flexibility, leadership, customer-focus, decision-making capabilities, and commitment. It is important to identify your top three to five selling points and highlight them during the course of the interview.
Remember not to blurt out the answer as soon as you are asked a question. Take some time to compose the answer in your mind, and describe your actions in a structured or logical way. This would prove to the interviewer that you have a good presence of mind.
The Situation-Task-Action-Result (STAR) technique is an excellent way of handling behavioral questions.
Here, you need to first, describe a specific situation that relates to the question, then, task and its objective, the action that you took, and finally, the positive result or outcome. Do not provide general or vague answers. Be precise and to the point.

Sample Questions

Here are some sample questions that you can prepare for:
  • Provide an example of when you had to display your leadership skills and guide the team to meet an important goal.
  • Provide an example of when you had to deal with an irate customer, and how did you resolve the issue?
  • Describe the most creative work-related process that you have introduced in your team or organization.
  • Describe a situation where you were under a lot of personal stress, but had to deal with a rigorous deadline at work.
  • Provide an example of a situation when you had to make a quick decision under a lot of pressure and expectation.
  • Describe a situation where you had to handle a conflict between two members of your team, which was destroying the work environment, and how did you normalize it?