Behavioral-Based Interviewing

What is Behavioral-Based Interviewing?

When interviewing, we focus on your experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities that are job-related. That's because we believe past behavior and performance predicts future behavior and performance. In a behavioral-based interview, you will be asked for specific examples of times when you demonstrated particular behaviors or skills. You may refer to work experiences, activities, hobbies, volunteer work or school projects as examples of your past behavior.

What's the Best Way to Answer Behavioral-Based Questions?

The best response to a behavioral-based question has three key elements:

  • First, explain the specifics about the circumstance you were involved in.
  • Next, describe the actions you took in that circumstance.
  • Finally, tell us what results followed because of your actions?

Here's some more advice:

  • Use one specific example, not a general or vague example.
  • Don't describe how you would behave. Describe how you actually did behave. If you wish you would have behaved differently, explain that. It will show that you've learned from the experience.

An Example of a Behavioral-Based Question and Answer

Here's the question:

"Give me an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult client or customer? What did you do?"

Here's an answer. (Because this is an example, we're showing you in bold how the answer includes the key elements mentioned above.)

(Describe the circumstances in enough detail so the interviewer can fully understand your role.)
"A client called with a complaint about the work of one of the consulting teams that reports to me. He said the team hadn't completed its task because its final recommendations failed to address the staff increases that would be needed to carry out the recommendations."
(Describe the action you took.)
"I very politely asked him if he'd like to review the contract, explaining that according to the agreement, staffing considerations weren't part of what we were to deliver. He began arguing that if we were good consultants, we would've prepared a quality report. Again, I reminded him of the limitations the contract placed on the team. I then assured him that if he'd like to have additional recommendations included, we could do so within a reasonable amount of time. I followed up by faxing him my understanding of the arrangement, along with a copy of the original contract. I also sent a copy to the consulting team to alert them."
(Describe the results, quantifying them if possible.)
"The consulting team was able to rework its report to include the additional staffing that would be necessary. The team leader delivered the final report in person and had a brief discussion with the client. The client was impressed by the personal service and quick turnaround. He has since contracted with us to manage the project implementation."