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Behavioural Interviewing

What is behavioural interviewing?

In a nutshell interviewing tips, skills, questions and techniques are an important skill to acquire. Behavioural Interviewing is asking a question about a candidates experience to ascertain if the way they behaved in a situation is what you want for your organisation or for the job. Behaviour in the candidate’s past experience is a good guide for future performance.

An example:  You require someone to work on their own a lot. The first stage is to name the behaviour.

Behaviour named:  Working alone

The second stage is to define ‘working alone’ into how this person needs to behave in a job.


Be very clear about own working priorities, therefore able to make decisions without reference to anyone else.

The third stage is to design behavioural questions designed to obtain evidence from the candidate.

Behavioural questions for ‘Working Alone’:

Can you think of a time recently when you needed to ask someone else’s advice before you could complete a piece of work?

Describe the most important decision you have made recently.

Talk me through a project which you managed yourself over the past 12 months.

Can you think of a time when you struggled with a decision and needed someone else’s help?

Have you ever forgotten to do something for someone?

Describe a deadline you have missed recently.

Can you think of a day when you already had a lot to do, yet you were asked to do something else?

Hints on Behavioural Interviewing

  • Design your questions beforehand and tailor them to the person’s CV/application form
  • You can ask questions about technical skills/knowledge as well as behaviour

i.e. You need someone to use a spreadsheet package

Ask ‘Talk me through a spreadsheet you use a lot.’or ‘Describe the last spreadsheet you designed.’

  • Stick to examples of behaviour that are as recent as possible
  • Try to ask for examples of when the person succeeded as well as when they failed so that you get a balanced view of their behaviour at work
  • You need to get the incident first, then probe with a question such as:Talk me through the situation Can you recall what…exactly happened?
    you said?
    they said?
    you did?
  • Be very aware if a candidate replies in the second person (“what we did is”) – Always be ready to ask ‘What was your role in this meeting?’ to get them talking in the first person (“what I did was to”).
  • You need 3-4 examples of behaviour to make as objective a decision as possible

© Copyright Kay Buckby.

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