Behavior Based Interviewing
What is it?
◊ An interview style that believes that the best predictor of what an individual will do in the future is what he/she has done
in the past. Since past behaviors are a good indicator of future actions, interviewers find this format to have an excellent
◊ The interviewer does not rely just on intuition but instead asks probing questions concerning the applicant's character,
experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities.
◊ Behavior based interviewing is designed to obtain the most information about past behavior as it relates to specific
Behavioral questions usually begin with such phrases as:
◊ Describe for me...
◊ Tell me about...
◊ Give me an example of...
How to respond to a behavior based question:
◊ The ideal way to respond to a behavior-based question is by using the STAR technique as outlined below:
S - Situation:
Describe a specific situation that relates to the question.
T - Task:
Describe your task. What goals did you have?
A - Action:
Describe the action that you took.
R - Result:
Describe the positive result or outcome of the situation.
Sample STAR story:
◊ Situation (S):
Advertising revenue was falling off for my college newspaper, The Jambar, and a large number of long-term advertisers
were not renewing contracts.
◊ Task (T):
My goal was to secure contracts with as many former and new advertisers as possible to generate more advertising
◊ Action (A):
I designed a new promotional packet to go with the rating sheet and compared the benefits of the Jambar circulation
with other advertising medium in the area. I also arranged for a Williamson College of Business Administration professor to
conduct a special training session about selling strategies for the newspaper's account executives.
◊ Result (R):
We signed contracts with eight former advertisers for daily ads and five for special supplement ads. Also, the paper
increased the number of new advertisers by 20 percent over the same period last year.
◊ Evaluate your own background to identify your skills and experience related to the job objective. Develop and
rehearse brief scenarios about how you used those skills, each illustrating a specific activity or task required by the job.
Each "story" should explain the problem and your solution, and give the results in quantified terms, if possible.
◊ Be prepared to provide examples of occasions when results were not as expected and for questions asking for more detail
than you have already given. The skilled interviewer will probe your skill in handling failure as well as success.
◊ Identify three to five top selling points -- attributes that set you apart from other candidates -- and be sure you point
them out during the interview.
SAMPLE Behavioral Based Questions:
1. Sometimes it's easy to get in "over your head". Describe a situation where you had to request help or assistance on a
project or assignment.
2. Give an example of how you applied knowledge from previous coursework to a project in another class.
3. Describe a situation where others you were working with on a project disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?
4. Describe a situation in which you found that your results were not up to your professor/supervisor's expectations. What
happened? What action did you take?
5. Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision, and how did you arrive at that decision?
6. You are working on a group project. Three members of the group are working very hard, one member is hardly working.
Without that person's contribution, the project will never be finished on time. What do you do?
7. Describe a time in which you felt it was necessary to modify or change your actions in order to respond to the needs of
8. Tell me about a time when you had to work with an irate person/customer/client. How did you handle the situation and
what was the eventual outcome?
9. Sometimes it's important to disagree with others to keep a mistake from being made. Tell me about a time when you
were willing to disagree with another person in order to build a positive outcome.
10. Tell me about the most discouraging feedback you have received in the past year. What did you do about it?
11. Describe the system you use for keeping track of multiple projects. How do you track your progress so that you
can meet deadlines? How do you stay focused?
12. Give me an example of a situation where you sought out a problem to solve because it represented a challenge to you.
13. Give me an example of a time when you used good judgement and logic in solving a problem.
14. Tell me about a time when you had to use your communication skills to get a point across.
15. By examples, convince me that you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations, and environments.
16. Tell me about a time when you failed and what happened.