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Excel in behavioural interviews

If you’ve been called for an interview, it’s because the hiring manager is interested in your CV and wants to find out more about your suitability for the role. To help you stand out in the interview process, it pays to understand the different interview styles that you may encounter and prepare for them accordingly.

Many interviews combine competency-based and behavioural questions. Behavioural interview questions are designed to show how you handled specific work situations and are used to indicate how you may perform in the future.

You will be asked to provide an example of a past situation or exercise that you have been deeply involved in, and you will need to think carefully about the answer you give, making sure that your example relates to the question asked.

Preparation is key for behavioural/competency based interviews.


Some examples of common behavioural interview questions include:

  • Tell me about a project you managed that didn’t go to plan.
  • Tell me about a specific situation when you managed conflicting priorities. What did you do?
  • Tell me about a difficult negotiation that you had to handle.

Tips to help you shine


Robert Walters country manager, Suzanne Feeney says: "Preparation is key for behavioural/competency based interviews. Having strong examples to draw on during the interview removes the pressure of trying to think of suitable answers on the spot. While you cannot guarantee what you will be asked, following the steps below gives you the best chance to success"

1. Read the job description thoroughly, and prepare some examples of past performance that relate directly to the essential or desired skills.

2. Structure your answers so you don’t drift off track. We recommend the STAR structure: Situation - what was the context; Task – what did you need to do; Action - what steps did you take; Result - what happened? The key is to demonstrate capability by providing evidence of how you meet the selection criteria; provide specific details; and where possible, include an indicator of success or a result.

3. Practise your answers, preferably with a friend who will give you honest feedback. Most people have a tendency to rush when they are feeling under pressure and practising out loud will help you to pace yourself.


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