How to Master the Behavioral Interview

Let’s demystify the behavioral interview! While there are many facets and flavors, candidates should put consistent time, energy, and effort into preparing for the behavioral sections of the interview process.

Rachel's Headshot by Rachel June 05, 2022
How to Master the Behavioral Interview

Let’s demystify the behavioural interview… While there are many facets and flavours, candidates should put consistent time, energy, and effort into preparing for the behavioural sections of the interview process. Although various companies may value the behavioural interview/questions differently, what we can prepare for is our candidate strategy to tackle these sorts of questions as they arise in our interview journey.

Together we work through a holistic strategy in three parts:

  • Common questions
  • Behavioural matrix
  • Interview best practices

First let’s start with a question we are nearly certain of getting, “tell me about yourself”. For this question, we want to loosely trace our resume but not regurgitate word for word. Think about the resume as the written word in a script; we now want to bring action, colour, and excitement to our story similar to how stage actors would to the written word of a script.

  • Often our interviewer will have the resume in front of them, meaning they will be able to follow your story if you traverse it chronologically. This is a great strategy to make your development seem more like a journey while showcasing each “stepping stone” of your career.

  • As this is often the first question we want to present our answer in a logical and organised way so the interviewer is able to seamlessly follow our words and hone in on your accomplishments.

  • An excellent way to end this section is to define what brought you to this role/interview/conversation. Not only are you wrapping up the answer but you are constructing your answer in a more organic and conversational way that is often seen as favourable and less forced.

Now, let’s move on to the questions we cannot anticipate. While we cannot prepare for every question this strategy allows us to better prepare for a vast majority of relevant themes while organising our past applicable experiences!

For most roles, there are dozens if not hundreds of applicable questions an interviewer could ask. That being said, some questions may have similar themes or keywords. The key here is to categorise similar themes in one column and applicable experiences in another; this creates a 2-column ‘Behavioural Matrix’.

Use the following list to organise your career highlights and mentally compartmentalise peak experiences relevant to the desired role; you want to come up with examples in each of these areas:

  • Thinking outside the box, creativity, problem solving
  • Challenge, Failure, Creative solution, client management, expectation management, managing up
  • Starting something from the ground up, innovation, influence
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Vendor management, complex solutions, communication. Technical knowledge, lack of resourcing
  • Moral issue, conflict, not getting the response that I wanted

Make sure you practice your responses or at least speak through each experience using the STAR method (situation, task, action, result) ahead of the interview as you don’t want to falter during the interview. How you then package it up is contextual to the question you’re asked in the interview. You got this!

Lastly, like any interview, we want to prepare a list of applicable questions to ask our interviewer.

  • Not only do we want to showcase our interest in the role, but we also want to use this time to continue to build our connection we have created with our interviewer throughout the time of the interview.
  • Ensuring our questions are specific to the role, industry attuned, or personally connective is often seen as a great way to showcase candidacy relevance.

I hope you find these tips helpful and if you have any feedback or questions feel free to drop us a line at [email protected]!

 

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