Interview techniques are numerous. Organizations use various styles of interview to assess and acquire talent. Techniques could be phone interview, technical assessments, psychometric assessments, Case studies and more.

While Technical interviews, Case Study Presentations, Logic based evaluations are easily passed with flying colors by most professionals irrespective of experience. However, many professionals with considerable work experience and successful history in managing teams, find it difficult to navigate successfully the behavior-based interview questions. They fumble, mumble and get stumped with behavioral interview questions.

As a career skills trainer, the most common issue that I have heard my clients call out is “the Brain freeze”, “going blank”, “nothing coming to the mind to say” etc. Remember, these behavioural interview techniques are used during different levels of interview and in different patterns. It is not called out specifically.

So, here are some of my observations & points that I think will help you (as a candidate) to build your strategy in dealing with behavioural based interviews.

As mentioned, Behaviour Based Interviews (BBI) are not necessarily called out as the process, but many experienced leaders/ head hunters / recruiters – who hire the talent, rely on this format extensively owing to the insight they garner from such conversations.

This interview technique is about giving the job seeker / the candidate an opportunity to go back their memory lane and come back with experiences, instances that bring out the various attributes and behaviours they have showcased in the past and the learnings they inculcated thereby.

How does BBI work and how to prepare for it?

The idea of BBI is to use conversations in an interview to assess past behaviours of the candidate to be able to predict the future behavioural pattern of the candidate using pre-defined parameters for the role that will make the role successful.

It is widely used, rather woven in conversations by experienced recruiters and hiring managers. These questions usually begin with:

Tell me an instance /Have you had a situation where/ What did you do in that situation /What has been your greatest achievement / deep regret/ failure? Followed by What did you learn, how did you handle that etc.

If you notice these questions are not hypothetical like: if you are in this role / job / situation what will you do? Etc. These questions are created in “future tense”, answering them is different.

Behavioural interview questions need to be answered with these ingredients:

1.      Truth – It is recommended that candidates so not invent instances on the impress the interviewer. This will get you caught soon!!

2.      Integrity – Your data needs to be in sync. Absence of this can be picked up, may lead to black listing of your candidature big time!!

3.      Courage – As a candidate you need to have the courage to own up your ”Karma” – good, bad or ugly. Have the courage to own your success, failure and goof ups too.

Techniques to prep up for Behavioural Interview questions:

1.  Walk down your memory lane:

In order to be able to answer the behaviour interview questions, you need know what are different experiences you have gained while working for these many years. Relive each experience, each project, each obstacle, each conversation. Introspect how it made you feel. Evaluate different areas of that experience like, what was your overall attitude, what did you believe you could do or not, what was the feeling when you felt you are out of the situation, did you learn something out of the entire experience and also how did it impact you further in your life….

2.  Journal your key experiences across your associations with different employers:

As your work experience increases, so will your lessons learnt, failures, success and survival tactics too. If you are prepping up for interviews, it is recommended that you journal your experiences based on what attitudes, key behaviours demonstrated and outcome. This will help you to structure and plan your strategy on answering the interviews without scurrying through your memories, filtering “in the moment”. This will also save you from the fumbling, looking for right words, adding fillers into your conversations or even brain freeze.

3.  Use S.T.A R –

S>T>A>R is the technique that can be used to structure your behavioural interview questions. This method is highly recommended by career experts as well. This technique helps you to structure your answer, prevents you from getting derailed in your answers by helping you focus on specifics of a situation or experience.

Since interviews are time sensitive, a structured prep of your experiences will help you to prevent from too lengthy answers to the questions. Structure your experiences based on the below S>T>A>R

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S – Situation – What was the situation, challenge, concern, problem statement etc

T– Task – What tasks had you to complete or Focus on,

A– Actions – What actions you took to accomplish those tasks (people, process, out of the box solutions etc), did you also have actions for the team you managed, etc

R – Result – What was the final outcome, resolution to the problem statement

When I work with my clients to prep for job interviews, I have noticed that this approach helps them to be more confident when they attend interview, as it eliminates the feeling of “did I answer the right manner” or “wish I could have said that” or “gosh, why did I say it, will this answer go against me” etc.

4.    Develop your personal style of story-telling :

Being a recruiter and now career skills trainer, I have seen through the years that interviews are no less of “selling pitches”. For a candidate, it is overcoming the obstacles presented by the interviewer in engaging your talent (that you as a candidate provide). It is about “selling” the brand “you”.

Consider behavioural interviews like opportunities to showcase your success, acceptance of the fact that you as human did have some falls, but you stayed strong and also the wisdom you bring in as a professional.

It is necessary that you develop your oratory skills/ conversational skills (how you address the question, how you plan to explain the situation, how you continue to be specific and be time sensitive). 

Know your personal style of communication and use it to engage your interviewer in behavioural interviews. Using pre scripted answers will not go well in interviews as they sound fake. So be “you” during such interviews and tackle them with confidence. Preparation will go a long way here.

5.   Be calm, continue to remain so:

Behavioural interview questions don’t guarantee that the interviewers will throw same/ similar questions at you, whichever be the employer you are interviewing for. So, be prepared with all kinds of experience related questions (not limited to non tech, remember interviewers can be creative too).

Be calm when you face with difficult questions during interviews, if required, tell the interviewer that you may need a minute or so to answer it – It’s better to take time to gather thoughts and answer than say something irrelevant and time waster.

Being spontaneous when you should be calculative, will mar you chances of being successful.

6.      Be your own interviewer:  

As a career skills trainer, I also prep my candidates to be creative and come up with the key behaviours / attitudes that they think will be relevant to the job role they are being interviewed for. I also suggest that they research the known culture and values of the organization they want to be part of. This helps to go back to the memory journal and see what experiences will showcase those value-based questions. In the event an unexpected question is being asked, take time to think and answer, be genuine….be human who has rich experiences, who has interesting true stories to talk about, which are not only about successes, but some are of failures and conflicts….

As I have mentioned in the previous points and posts, it is essential to understand the fact that in the current employment market, the balance of demand versus supply is not proportionate. So, however senior you are in the corporate ladder, you have cut throat competition out there for that job you have an eye on.

The only thing that will give you an edge is your experience and your selling skills. How well you convince someone to engage you as an employee requires good expertise in area of work, good preparedness, good attitude, confidence and great conversational skills to showcase how different you are from the crowd and what you bring to the table. While your tech skills and functional expertise will help you to move into the next rounds of interview, how you fare through the behavioural interviews will be on of the key elements in your selection.

As a trainer I recommend my clients to be prepared for the unexpected or surprise questions, so being calm is not an effort during interviews.

I do hope this post will help you better to prep better for the next interview. If this post has added some value to you, please comment and share this with your network / friends and family who are prepping up for their next career move or interview. It may benefit them too…

Best Regards,


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