Behavior-based interviews

In the past, job candidates could prepare for most interviews by practicing answers to the most commonly asked interview questions. Unfortunately, since the responses to these types of questions could be "scripted" by candidates, interviewers did not always receive reliable indicators of the candidates' skills and behaviors as they related to the position. Because of this, more and more employers transitioned to an interview technique called behavioral or behavior-based interviewing.

What are behavior-based interviews?

Behavior-based interviews are based on the belief that past behavior and performance predicts future behavior and performance. Be prepared to provide specific examples and short narratives (anecdotes) of how you have demonstrated skills that employers are looking for in candidates. Examples may come from work experience, internships, activities, hobbies, volunteer work, family life, etc.

Preparing for a behavior-based interview

The following steps will help you prepare for behavior-based interviews:

  • Analyze the type of position for which you are applying. What skills are employer seeking in the successful candidate? If you have a specific company you are interested in applying to, research the company and perform informational interviews to learn what skills that particular employer look for.
  • Analyze your own background. What skills do you have that relate to your career goals?
  • Identify examples from your past experiences where you demonstrated those skills. Tell a brief story about how you used particular skills and/or knowledge. Concentrate on developing complete STAR (situation/task, action, result/outcome) responses and remember that a good story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Start with a particular situation or task you were faced with, the action you took, and the result or outcome of that action. This answer type may also be referred to as SAR or PAR.
  • Whenever possible, quantify your results. For example, don't stop with, "I increased our professional organization's memberships." Continue with the number of memberships.
  • Be prepared to provide examples of when results did not turn out as you had planned. What did you do then? How did you learn from that experience?
  • Before starting the interview process, identify 2 or 3 of your top selling points and determine how you will convey these points (with a STAR response) during the interview.


Sample behavior-based interview questions

List of behaviors employers may be seeking