Behavioural Based Interviews

Behavioural Based Interviews

Most blue chip organisations now utilise the behavioural based interview in the selection process. To set you up for success we have outlined the structure of the interview and provided some helpful tips because:

  • It is the most predictive form of interviewing
  • Predicts future performance based on past behaviours
  • If you reacted one way in a certain situation, the rule of thumb is you will react again the same way when presented with a similar problem
  • The behaviours are often indicated in a job specification and this will give you an idea of what behavioural questions they could possibly ask

“What do you know about our organization?”

If you have done your research thoroughly, using both networking and published sources, you should be able to discuss the company's products, services, reputation, culture, mission and goals, history, etc. However, you shouldn't act as if you know everything about the organization: you can't and don't. While your answer should show that you have taken the time to do some research, you don't want to overwhelm the interviewer with your encyclopaedic knowledge of the organization.

Make it clear that while you have done your homework on the organization, you want to learn more from those who know the most about it – particularly the person across the desk from you. Then be prepared to ask questions.

“Why do you want to work for us?”

Here the interviewer is probing for your motivation for joining the company. Indicate that from your study of the company, the business issues they face are the kind that excite you and match up well with your skills, abilities and past experience. Your answer should also reflect your desire to contribute to the company and grow as a professional.

“Why are you leaving (did you leave) your present (last) position?”

This question must be answered briefly. If you get defensive or explain and rationalize to excess, you will only stir up questions and concerns in the interviewer's mind. If you were laid off as part of a downsizing or staff reductions, say so. If your move is a voluntary one, give your reasons, not in terms of your dissatisfaction at your current job, rather in terms of the contributions you would like to make at the new company. If you were actually terminated, be as positive and honest as you can.

Why should we hire you? 

Your answer here should be based on your knowledge of the job, the company and the "hot buttons" or concerns that you know exist. You also should know exactly what you have to offer that meets the organizations most immediate needs.

Talk about your record of getting things done in areas which relate directly to the most pressing needs in the department and organization – cite specific examples of accomplishments from your resume. If you have a special skill that truly sets you apart from others, now is the time to mention it.

What do you look for in a job? 

The interviewer is looking to see if you have thought about what you enjoy and what you are best at. He/she also wants to know that there is a reasonably good fit between your skills and interests and the job. Your answer should therefore be made with this job in mind. A good approach is to give a general breakdown of the types of activities in which you'd like to engage, the type of culture in which you work best (giving examples from past experience), and then to relate that to your research of the organization and the department.

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

This is one of the most frequently asked questions. Be sure to relate your answer to the company interviewing you rather than giving a very broad, general answer. Keep your ambitions realistic.

It's best to start by saying that your immediate goal is to perform excellently in the position at hand, and that you would hope to be able to grow as you proved yourself and as opportunities opened up in the organization. You might then ask the interviewer, "What kind of career path would be realistic for someone who performs well in this position?"