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What is Behavioural Interviewing?

By Andrew

It's the most common method of job interviewing.

You will be asked lots of behavioural questions if you go for a Christmas casual role. So it’s a great idea to know what they are and how to prepare for them.

If you think about it, what someone says and what someone does can be VERY different things.

You might have a friend who says they love sharing, but in reality, they hardly ever share!

Psychologists realised that it was pretty unhelpful to ask people what they were like. How dumb would this be as a job interview;

Q: “Are you hard working?”

A: Yes

Q: “Are you punctual?”

A: Yes

Q: “Are you good at working in teams?”

A: Yes

Q: “Are you organised?”

A: Yes

Psychologists realised that it is people’s past behaviour that is the best predictor of future behaviour.

So instead, they ask you about your past behaviour. Hence the name “behavioural interviewing”. You learn a lot more about a person in a behavioural interview.

The classic phrase you will hear is “GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE OF A TIME WHEN YOU… XYZ

It’s a question asking you to give an example of your past behaviour. If you give a bad example, or take a long time to think of an example, the interviewer will mark you down.

So the dumb interview above, now becomes a much more insightful process;

Q: “Give me an example of when you have been hard working?”

A: "I haven’t had a paid job before, but I think I am hard working. For example, my swim squad meets twice a week at 6am and we swim 3km each morning. It’s not always fun, but you have to push through and do a good job for the team”.

Q: “Give me an example of when you have been punctual?”

A: "I have to attend swim practice with my swim squad twice a week at 6am. It’s not hard for me to organise my morning so that I’m always on time. It annoys me when we have to wait around for someone who is late. I like to be on time".

Q: “Give me an example of when you have been good at working in teams?”

A: "In my scout group we organise an annual trip to the mountains and we need to work together to keep everyone motivated".

Q: “Give me an example of when you have been organised?” A: "On top of school, I do swim squad each week, plus I play in a band and on the weekends, I take my sisters to their ballet classes, so I need to keep organised. I use a diary, which helps a lot. Also, I live over an hour from school, so I just can’t afford to leave something at home. All my friends say I am an organised freak".

So expect to have examples ready of the characteristics the employer is looking for.

Check out our other blog post How to Prepare for Behavioural Interviews.

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