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What Are Behavioural Questions In An Interview?

Before an interview you may very well have run scenarios through your mind and have a good idea what you may be asked by the interviewer. These usually involve questions regarding your previous experience, qualifications gained, where you see yourself in five years time and what could you offer the company if you are offered a job.
Written by
Joanna Clare
Content Manager
Published on
November 5, 2023

Before an interview you may very well have run scenarios through your mind and have a good idea what you may be asked by the interviewer. These usually involve questions regarding your previous experience, qualifications gained, where you see yourself in five years time and what could you offer the company if you are offered a job. Of course, these are just a sample of questions that you can predict may be asked and therefore you can have some good practice regarding your answers for several days in advance, if not more.

But what about questions that you are not expecting? Employers are increasingly using behavioural based interview questions in addition to the stereotypical questions. These are designed to see how well you react to stressful situations. These may be related to your past experiences or structured in a way that you have to envisage the future and make a judgement for a situation that has not yet happened.

The principle behind this technique is that past behaviour is a good way of predicting future behaviour so the questions are all based on real life events. The interviewer can then make informed choices and decisions based on the candidates ability to align with the requirements of the hiring company.

You will be expected to give a short but concise response where you detail the specific  situation, the action you took, who was involved and how the situation unfolded and was then resolved. This helps potential employers to gain a deeper insight into your problem solving abilities, leadership qualities, interpersonal skills, adaptability and other important competencies which are relevant to the job for which you are applying.

Examples of behavioural questions could be from a wide range of scenarios such as being asked to describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult client, customer or even a colleague and how you managed the situation. Another example could be being asked to describe a situation when you had to make a quick decision and how it affected everyone involved. Future based scenarios could be regarding potential employment and how you would see yourself fitting into an established team or if you were given an important deadline but failed to ensure the project was completed on time.

Although you can never be certain what you are going to be asked in any interview, you can prepare by taking time to reflect on your past professional experiences - focusing on the very good and the very bad. How did you handle these and what could you have done better? Think about your competencies and skills as well as your weaknesses, the characters you have worked with, the responsibilities you have had, any projects you have worked on and of your past appraisals. All of these will give you a good choice of situations and the confidence to answer in a professional manner which will  impress the interviewer.

By preparing as well as you can beforehand, you can showcase your qualities through maintaining a professional stance and well structured responses.

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