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Tips On Preparing for a Recruitment and Selection Interview using Behavioural Interviewing

What is behavioural interviewing?

Interviewing tips, skills, questions and techniques are an important skill to acquire. Behavioural Interviewing is about asking a question focused on a candidate’s experience to ascertain if the way they behaved in a situation in the past is what you want for your organisation, or for the job. The basis of behavioural interviewing is that behaviour from the candidate’s past experience is a good guide for future performance.

Behavioural Interviewing 1 two interviewers

An example

You require someone to work on their own a lot.

Stage 1

The first stage is to name the behaviour.

Behaviour:     Working alone

Stage 2

The second stage is to translate ‘working Alone’ into how this person needs to behave in a job. For example:

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

Stage 3

The third stage is to create 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 advice from someone else 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 help from someone else?

click to download behavioural interviewing tips

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?


You repeat this process for all the behaviours you have identified and you are then ready to carry out your behavioural interviewing.


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

Question:  ‘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:

What did you do?

What was the most challenging part?

What was your role?

  • 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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