Behavioural Style Interviews



Behavioural Style Interviews

What are they & how do you prepare for success?

Interviews can be a stressful experience for job seekers, especially when faced with the dreaded behavioural-style interview. Not to worry! Thankfully there’s a tried and tested technique that will help you to answer these tricky situations.

It’s known as the STAR technique and by using questions that require these types of answers it is easier for the employer to compare all the people who are applying for the job in a methodical and structured way. Behavioural questions evaluate how you’ve handled situations in the past and what you would do if faced with a similar situation again in the future.

Beyond simply finding out if a candidate has the knowledge to do the job, behavioural questions help a hiring manger determine if a candidate also has the skills and experience.

These questions are designed to trip you up and one wrong answer can mean the difference between being hired and being left in the dust. 

Which questions need a STAR response?

The questions will usually start along the lines of “tell me about a time when you”. This will be followed by those competencies that have been listed on the job specification, so it is important to be familiar with these so that you can prepare.  A lot of the questions will require you to think about past work experiences you’ve had.


Here are some examples of some common behavioural questions:

  • “Tell me about a time you failed at a task you were assigned…”
  • “Have you ever had to work with someone you didn’t like? How did you handle that?”
  • “Give an example of how you directly contributed to a successful outcome?”

Tough questions, right? Luckily, we have some top tips about the S.T.A.R. interview method and how, with a little preparation, you can provide answers that are right on target.

STAR stands for: Situation, Tasks, Action & Results

  • Situation: This is about setting the scene, giving a context and background to the situation. So if you’re asked a question about time management, your reply would need to include the details of the project you were working on, who you were working with, when it happened and where you were. Think of a situation similar to what the interviewer is asking you about that had a successful outcome. It doesn’t necessarily have to be work related as long as it’s relevant. Remember to include the who, what, where, when and how.

  • Task: This is more specific to your exact role in the situation. You need to make sure that the interviewer knows what you were tasked with, rather than the rest of the team. Describe the task you were responsible for in that situation. Keep it specific but concise. Make sure to highlight any specific challenges you faced.

  • Action: This is the most important part of the STAR technique, because it allows you to highlight what your response was. Remember, you need to talk about what you specifically did, so using ‘I’ rather than team actions. Be sure to share a lot of detail, the interviewer will not be familiar with your previous work environments, although remember to avoid any acronyms and institutional language.

What you’re trying to get across here is how you assessed and decided what was the appropriate response to the situation, and how you got the other team members involved – which in turn is a great way to demonstrate your communication skills. Remember to focus on what you did and highlight traits (qualities) that a hiring manager will find desirable (initiative, teamwork, leadership, dedication, etc.)

  • Result: This is where you get to be introspective. Share what the outcome of the situation was and how you specifically contributed to that outcome. What did you accomplish? What did you learn? What were the results of your actions? The result should be a positive one, and ideally one that can be quantified. Examples include repeat business, an increase in sales by 15% or saving the team 5 hours a week. The interviewer will also want to know what you learnt from that situation, and if there was anything you’d do differently the next time you were faced with that situation.

When to Use the STAR Method

While there are literally an unlimited amount of possible behavioural questions a hiring manager could ask you, there are several specific categories they all fall into:

  • Teamwork
  • Problem Solving/Planning
  • Initiative/Leadership
  • Interpersonal Skills/Conflict
  • Pressure/Stress

The STAR technique enables you to showcase your relevant experience with the interviewer in a methodical manner. We recommend doing some in-depth preparation before the interview so that you can have some great examples to quote. Prior to going in for your interview, make sure you take a good hard look at the job you’re applying for and use clues from that to prepare your S.T.A.R answers. Once you have identified those skills & experiences required, go through your own personal history and background and find success stories that align with those skills

** Look out for Behavioural-style interviews Part II – “Avoiding Common Mistakes using the STAR technique & top 5 Tips For Getting the Most out of STAR”

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