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What Is A Behavioral Interview?

Behavioral interviewing is a popular and mainstream mode of job interviewing. Increasing  numbers of employers are using behavior-based methods to screen job candidates, understanding  how to excel in this interview environment is a crucial job-hunting skill. 

The premise behind behavioral interviewing is that the most accurate predictor of future  performance is past performance in similar situations. Behavioral interviewing, in fact, is said to  be 55 percent predictive of future on-the-job behavior, while traditional interviewing is only 10  percent predictive. 

Employers use the behavioral-interview technique to evaluate a candidate’s experiences and  behaviors so they can determine the applicant’s potential for success. The interviewer identifies  job-related experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that the company has decided  are desirable in a particular position. 

Behavioral-based interviewing is typically providing a more objective set of facts to make  employment decisions than other interviewing methods. Traditional interview questions ask you  general questions such as “Tell me about yourself.” The process of behavioral interviewing is  much more probing and works very differently. 

In a traditional job interview, you can usually get away with telling the interviewer what he or she wants to hear, even if you are fudging a bit on the truth. Even if you are asked situational questions that start out “How would you handle XYZ situation?” you have minimal accountability. How does the interviewer know, after all, if you would really react in a given situation the way you say you would? In a behavioral interview, however, it’s much more difficult to give responses that are untrue to your character. When you start to tell a behavioral story, the behavioral interviewer typically will pick it apart to try to get at the specific behavior(s). The interviewer will probe further for more depth or detail such as “What were you thinking at that point?” or “Tell me more about your meeting with that person,” or “Lead me through your decision process.” If you’ve told a story that’s anything but totally honest, your response will not hold up through the barrage of probing questions.


The best way to responds to behavior-based questions is by briefly describe the situation, what  specific action you took to have an effect on the situation, and the positive result or outcome.  Frame it in a three-step process, usually called S-T-A-R statement: 

1. situation (or task, problem), 

2. Action, 

3. Result/outcome. 

STAR Example: 

Situation or Task (ST):  

Advertising revenue was falling off for my college newspaper, the Jetson Reporter, and large  numbers of long-term advertisers were not renewing contracts. 

Action (A):  

I designed a new promotional packet to go with the rate sheet and compared the benefits of  Reporter circulation with other ad media in the area. I also set-up a special training session for  the account executives with a School of Business Administration professor who discussed  competitive selling strategies. 

Result (R):  

We signed contracts with 15 former advertisers for daily ads and five for special supplements.  We increased our new advertisers by 20 percent [quantities are always good] over the same  period last year. 

Regardless of the type of questions asked, always answer using the STAR System.

If you need help with perfecting your interview skills, check out our Interview Preparation session for overcoming your obstacles. Contact us for a customized approach to your needs. 

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