Career Advice

6 Tips to Answering Behavioural Interview Questions

min read
Mikaela Thompson

Behavioural questions are a great way to prepare for your next interview. Here's what you need to know.

Why Behavioural Interview Questions Are Asked?

This is a tactic used by employers, hiring managers and interviewers to decide whether you have the right personality and fit for the job or for company culture. Before meeting the team or your direct report, you could be tested in advance to see if you have what it takes for the position and the company. They want to know more about how you will behave in a certain setting or in a hypothetical scenario to gauge you better as a person.

Long story short, these questions can't be answered with a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer. They involve intuition, initiative, and quick thinking.

Soft Skills Key to Behavioural Interview Questions

What is the difference between soft skills and hard skills? Soft skills are personal attributes that help a person communicate with another effectively and amicably. Hard skills are skills that you see on paper that are more like capabilities gained from educational institutions that you can learn to know and become familiar with, such as touch typing and computer programming.

Examples of these types of questions can start with the following:

  • If 'X' happened, how would you…
  • Can you share a past example of how you handled…
  • Let's discuss a time when you…
  • Describe how you would...

Be Prepared

Learn about the role from head to toe before you step into a behavioural interview. You want to know everything there is — ideally from the top of your head — to show that you are genuinely interested in the position. Have stories ready to give examples of and a narrative using the STAR method to help you explain what happened (with a positive outcome — more on this below), so that you don't get lost in the details.

Be Positive

Only share examples with positive outcomes to work in your favour. These would need to show your skill sets, successes, and achievements along the way or at the end when a problem is solved for instance. During the course of the explanation, don't bash anyone negatively as this will reflect badly in your light. You want to sound amicable and professional every step of the way.

Be Brief

This goes back to the STAR method. Keeping the details of your story in-check will help ensure that you don't sound too long-winded. Nobody wants a rambler. You want to be succinct and to the point so that your point comes across clearly and does not get lost in the mix of.

Be Truthful

Stay honest. Any recruiter or employer can do a background check and easily find out if you have not been telling the whole truth. That will reflect badly on you, so you want to be honest from the get-go, so that you're not killing any opportunities.

Be Careful

During the process of sharing details or explaining a scenario, make sure you do not share any confidential information. This is particularly important if you are interviewing with a competitor company, but also, you want your potential future employer to know that you can keep secrets and will do the same for them in solidarity.

Be Patient

This is always a good trait to express. Of course, there may be times that you need to chase something up to meet a deadline and make sure a process sticks to a timeline, but there is a time and a place for everything. You want to show that you know how to push for something, but also know how to wait for things in a timely manner without pushing on colleagues' buttons.

You also want to take pauses before you answer a question. An interviewer wants to know that you have carefully thought a question through before answering. Use this time to gather your thoughts before providing an answer, so that you don't blurt something out and change your mind halfway through, ending up in an erratic answer.

The Bottom Line

Try not to be nervous before a behavioural interview. The hiring manager is not trying to on purposely catch you out, but to ensure that they understand you better. They are essentially looking for a mix of hard and soft skills for the role and you can help demonstrate both according to the job description and questions asked.

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