The key to success for any interview is to prepare. While traditional interview questions that ask you to describe previous roles and qualifications are quite straightforward, behavioural questions can be more complicated to prepare for due to their subjective and unpredictable nature. However, behavioural questions do provide an opportunity to demonstrate to an employer that you have the soft and hard skills needed to successfully perform the role.

Most behavioural interview questions require a candidate to think through the question and effectively demonstrate their experience with concrete examples. They typically follow a similar pattern of presenting a situation and asking what actions you have taken to respond to something similar, and what the final result was. The ideal takeaway for any hiring manager asking these questions is to assess how you would handle similar situations if you were hired. Whether the question is to describe a past success or failure, your answer indicates self-awareness and how you’ve grown professionally since. Ultimately, this approach offers the evidence needed to determine if a potential candidate has the abilities needed to flourish in the role.

Here are 6 tactics to help you prepare for this crucial element of the interview process:

Research the Role and Company

It’s important when answering any question, not just behavioural, that you ensure your sentiments relate back to the skills required for the role and align with what the company is looking for. Start by reviewing the job listings for any qualifications or repeated keywords, then match your own experiences to those attributes so that you’re ready with examples that demonstrate what you know the hiring manager is already looking for. You will also want to learn about the company through their website or by conducting informal interviews with professional contacts who’ve worked for or with them to get a better understanding as to their preferred skills and personal qualities of a successful candidate.

Review Commonly Asked Questions

Typically, behavioural interview questions will look to address different areas of an individual’s working style, such as interpersonal skills, decision-making skills, teamwork capabilities, problem-solving skills, and leadership potential. While the behavioural interview questions asked can greatly vary depending on the role or company, here are a few commonly asked questions by our clients:

  • How do you prioritize working on multiple projects with tight deadlines at once?
  • What is an example of a goal you’ve reached and how did you achieve it?
  • Can you provide an example on how you work on a team?
  • What is a time where you were able to motivate employees or colleagues?
  • Share a mistake you once made at work and how you handled it?

Prepare Anecdotes

Once you have an understanding of the types of behavioural questions that may be asked in an interview, you will want to think of past experiences that not only answer those questions, but also correlate to the skills and qualities you’ve identified are needed for the role. Begin with 2-3 soft or hard skills you think are necessary for each potential question, and from there find an anecdote of something you’ve done for each that showcases those skills. For example, if the question pertains to juggling multiple tasks, they may be looking for an answer that highlights organizational, leadership, and self-discipline skills. These anecdotes will ultimately showcase to the hiring manager the value you bring in certain situations. If you are newly entering the workforce and do not have ample career experience to pull from, your past experiences can be from intern, volunteer or student roles as well.

Use the STAR Technique

When answering behavioural questions in your interview, try using the STAR technique to ensure that you are covering all the necessary information in your response. This four-step process is:

  • Situation – Describe the scene whether it be where you were working or the specific task given.
  • Task – Describe the issue or task you had to work on.
  • Action – Describe how you overcame the issue and/or completed the task.
  • Results – Describe the outcome from your actions and ideally quantify those results when possible.

To help you feel more confident in this approach, try practicing the answers you would give for the anecdotes you identified earlier. That said, do not feel that you need to memorize answers, this tactic is so that examples come to you naturally and are top of mind when you’re in the interview.

Stay Confident and Positive

Hopefully, by practicing potential questions and answers you will feel comfortable and confident in the interview. Demonstrating confidence will help make a strong first impression, show credibility, as well as put those around you at ease. Positivity will also help show you in a favourable light during the interview process. It’s important to remember that behavioural interview questions are not a curveball, but an opportunity to highlight your insights and critical thinking capabilities. While you may be asked about an unsuccessful experience, it’s important to focus on how you changed it to a positive one or what you learned from the situation. When responding, you want to avoid any sentiment of lingering frustration or negativity towards the project or previous employers and colleagues. 

Work with a Recruiter

If you’ve chosen to apply through an employment agency, your recruiter can help you prepare to ensure you’re presenting your best self to potential employers. A recruiter will also help you identify your most marketable skills and attributes, as well as be able to example how the opportunity will impact your immediate and long-term career development. 

LRO Staffing has years of experience placing candidates in roles that help to advance their careers with credible companies that offer competitive compensation. If you want to learn more about how using one of our recruiters can benefit your job search, we encourage you to contact us today!

Mia Laursen

Author Mia Laursen

Mia has found a career-long passion for developing impactful partnerships through thoughtful recruiting. She prides herself on her integrity, positive outlook, professionalism, and drive to connect job seekers with professional employers.

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