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Preparation Hints for a Behaviour Interview (BEI)

1. Be familiar with the job for which you’re being interviewed

Read the advertisement or job description to identify which personal attributes/ behaviours are likely to be key success factors for the role. For Client interviews you are advised to research the company’s website and any external information about them from business directories etc.

Make a note of two or three examples for each personal attribute that will best illustrate your suitability. Remember that different companies and industries may require different personal attributes, even for the same position. For example, ‘self-managing’ can mean very different things to different companies.

2. Be able to draw from a variety of experiences that demonstrate your skills and abilities

A good story shows you can use the skill in a variety of settings. Examples may be from your work experience, your personal life or some social or other situation. Of course a unique work situation story (unless otherwise specifically requested) should take priority. Be as open, expressive and succinct as possible about each experience.

3. Let others help you out – use examples of quotes from bosses or customers

For example, “My boss gave me a good performance review – they liked the way I stepped in to get the job done without being told to.” This demonstrates your willingness to take initiative, your flexibility and your teamwork skills.

4. Think ‘STAR’ – Situation, Task, Action and Result

There are several variations of this acronym in the recruiting industry, but all of them are intended to provide structure and focus to your answers. When asked about a type of situation, the interviewer is looking at how you responded to it via a specific example, not your general approach. Using the STAR model, you would break your answer into the four segments of:

Situation: The Organisation, Year, Job Title and brief overview of the situation

Task: Your specific role in the situation and what needed to be achieved

Action: What did you do and think? (70% of your answer)

Results: What was the final outcome?

This makes it easier for the interviewer to visualise and record your specific behavioural responses to specific events and so gain the best impression of your potential future performance. Prepare at least one STAR response for each personal attribute you may be questioned on. Make sure you don’t use the same example for all the attributes.

Example Question and Answer:

Question:

Please give me an example of a time when you have needed to influence public opinion? How did you do this?

Answer:

They will want to find out what you did – so talk about “I” not “We” in your examples.

5. Use recent examples

As you will be probed for detail around the situation, it is better to use events in the last few years as the detail will be clearer in your mind, but by all means go back further if you have a great example. Interviewers vary in how far back they’ll allow you to go, but they often want it to be no more than 5 years. Be as specific as possible about your contribution and the quantitative results achieved. Specific absolute or relative (%) gains in areas such as cost or time savings will give the interviewer a clearer picture of your abilities. If specific measurable results don’t apply to your example, you might explain how it streamlined processes, empowered others, improved customer service or resolved communication or productivity issues.

6. Practice telling your stories until they are vivid and concise

6 minutes is too long, 30 seconds is too short. Aim for roughly 2-3 minutes per answer but be prepared to expand if asked follow-up questions. An interview can be likened to a marketing activity, where you are the brand. It’s a bit like telling interesting but informative stories. You will get to an interview because your resume and past roles suggest that you have the appropriate technical skills and experience. But often what separates you from the other candidates at the interview stage is the interviewer’s belief in how you will fit into the company’s culture and specific team (your personal benefits).

Remember, you are selling your technical AND personal skills. Being able to communicate your adaptability and interpersonal skills at an interview is essential to becoming the leading candidate. This ‘story-telling practice’ is an important preparation tool to assist you in creating a natural flow to your stories so that the interviewer can focus on your potential benefit to the client. Don’t just think about your examples – practice saying them to friends or family.

7. Ask to come back to the question

If you are stuck for an answer to a particular question, it is reasonable to ask the interviewer if you may come back to it later and move on to the next question.

Click here to see a list of the typical sort of questions that you may be asked at a BEI interview. You would not necessarily attempt to rehearse an answer by rote for every one of these. But, be prepared for these types of questions, often mixed in with technical ones, and have a think about specific examples from your past that you could use.

 

This guide was created to maximise your effectiveness at a behavioural event interview and to ensure that we put the best candidates forward. We wish you well in utilising this information and your ensuing successes!

Should you progress to an interview with our Client, we also offer free interview coaching and practice with one of our expert coaches!