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How to Prepare for a Behavioural Interview

If you are planning to enter the job market anytime soon, it is more than likely that you may be invited to attend a ‘behavioural interview’. Behavioural interviews have been the norm for a long time in government, corporates, professional services, universities and graduate/internship programs, but they are also starting to become common place in interviews at much smaller organisations.

So what is a behavioural interview?

A behavioural interview is an interview that usually includes typical interview questions such as “Tell us about yourself?”, “What are your strengths/weaknesses?” etc but also includes ‘behavioural questions’ that are linked to the key competencies required to be successful in the role. Examples of these competencies may include: leadership, communication, teamwork, resilience, accountability, and teamwork amongst many others.

Behavioural questions can be identified, as they will ask the candidate for a specific example that demonstrates the competency and how effective they have been. A behavioural question can usually be identified, as it will open as follows:

“Tell us about a time when……..”;

“Give us an example of……………”; or

“Describe a situation when……….”

How do I answer such a question?

Behavioural questions require a response using a structure that we call ‘STAR’, meaning:

S = Situation (describe where you were and what the situation was)

T = Task (what did you have to do)

A = Actions (what actions and behaviours did you take)

R = Result (how successful were you / how did your actions help your team, boss, organisation, customers etc)

How to prepare?

If you have a behavioural interview coming up, I suggest you read the position description carefully and get an in-depth understanding of the key competencies (also called key selection criteria) required and then brainstorm what examples you have from your paid or unpaid work that demonstrate these competencies. Describe your example or story using STAR as a basic structure whilst trying to make it as natural as can be (it does take practice!).

If you can go into the interview with a good idea of the examples you are going to use for each competency then you are going to be streets ahead of other candidates who are not so well prepared.


Once you have finished answering behavioural questions the panel usually allow some time for you to also ask some questions of them. Ideally you want to have at least 2-3 open questions to ask the panel at the end of the interview that will turn the interview from an ‘interrogation’ into ‘conversation’. This will allow you to build rapport, relax and finish off on a high!

If you would like some help preparing for your next behavioural or competency-based interview, contact Leah Lambart at for a confidential discussion. I offer face-to-face interview coaching sessions in Malvern VIC or via Phone/Skype.

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