Behavioural based questions can be intimidating. They are often lengthy and seemingly loaded.
There is good reason that this style of question is popular with employers at interview.
They ask you to draw on previous experience, to show the employer how you might behave if put in a similar situation again.
It gives the employer insight to your problem-solving skills, as well as your ability to think under pressure.
Behavioural based questions shouldn’t be feared. With a little preparation, you will be answering like a professional.
Let’s start with the basics.
How do I identify a behavioural based question?
They usually start with the line ‘tell me about …’. The employer wants to know about your experience. Not a hypothetical scenario.
Here are some examples:
- Tell me about a difficult situation you encountered at work and how you overcame it.
- Tell me about a time where you were required to work with a difficult person (i.e. client, co-worker, manager, etc.). How did you handle the situation? What was the outcome?
How do I answer them?
You might have heard of the STAR (situation, task, action, result) or CAR (conflict, action, result) method of answering these questions.
Put simply, your answer needs to contain a brief story with a beginning, middle and end.
Often using a ‘situation’ or ‘conflict’ as your example if the best start, as these situations have clear actions and results.
When you answer the question talk from YOUR point of view. Specify the actions YOU took to resolve the issue.
Here’s an example of an answer to the following question:
Question: Tell me about a time where you were required to work with a difficult person (i.e. client, co-worker, manager, etc.). How did you handle the situation? What was the outcome?
Conflict: I once worked with for a manager who had high expectations. He would give me extra work, because he knew I was capable.
On this occasion, I had three large projects with similar deadlines. My manager added another at the last minute. I knew I wouldn’t be able to complete them all in time, to the quality I wanted.
Action: I spoke to my manager about the new task deadline and explained my other projects. Together we were able to prioritise my workload.
Result: He realised that the last thing he gave me, wasn’t the most important. We reshuffled some of the deadlines to meet his expectations and I was able to complete all of the projects on time, to a good quality.
Preparation is key!
It is easy to ramble or get lost under pressure. It pays to prepare.
Before your interview, write down a few examples of conflicts you’ve experienced in the past. Structure your answers using the STAR or CAR method.
While you can’t predict exactly what you will be asked, having a few examples that you can draw on quickly will take the pressure off at interview.
Behavioural based questions are your friend. You are in control of how you are perceived by your future employer.
Quick tips to remember:
- draw on real examples, where you are the person that resolved the issue
- ask the interviewer to repeat the question (if you get confused)
- use STAR or CAR to structure your answer
- take your time to answer
Now, go get the job!