Behaviour Interviews - A CV Centre Guide

Behaviour Interviews are becoming increasingly popular with recruiters as the fairest and most effective means of selecting the most suitable candidate for a position.  Also called Competency Based Interviews, they seek to establish how, in the past, you have demonstrated the key competencies required for the position in order to judge your potential to fulfil the job role.

How do Behaviour Interviews work?

Behaviour Interviews are structured interviews that will generally follow a set pattern for each candidate.  The interviewer will pose a series of questions asking you to explain your involvement in a given situation.  Examples of the type of question you may be asked include:

  • Describe a situation when you have been able to influence others to accept your proposed plan of action
  • Explain your involvement in a successful team project
  • Provide an example of when you have been responsible for solving a complaint

Your responses should draw on examples from your employment, your studies and even from your personal life, and it is important to avoid using the same example over and over again.

The type of questions you are asked may vary according to the industry sector you are applying to, just as the skills required for the role will also vary.  However, each answer you give should follow the same three steps:

  • Describe the situation
  • Explain exactly what your involvement was
  • Outline what the outcome was and what you learned from the experience

Although this may appear to be rather a rigid format, you should be prepared for the interviewer to interject with questions along the way, perhaps asking you to elaborate more on certain details.  So be ready for this.

Do your homework

Preparation is essential for Behaviour Interviews.  To help boost your chances of success, you should:

  • Research the company itself so that you know the type of people it employs
  • Read the job description and person specification carefully.  If you don’t meet the criteria, it may not be worth applying.  But don’t necessarily write off your chances if you fail to meet one of the criteria – you may be strong enough in other areas to compensate for this
  • Prepare a list of examples of when you have demonstrated the criteria essential for the role, keeping in mind the three steps mentioned above

Top tips for success

This type of interview can be rather nerve-wracking but it is important to remember that the other candidates will be asked the same questions so you have just as much chance of success as long as you have done your homework.  Other ways of helping you to get through the interview include:

  • Keep calm – your interviewer should allow you a small amount of time to prepare before you give your answer so don’t panic and say the first thing that comes into your head
  • Read the body language of the interviewer – if they are looking bored, maybe it is time to move on with your response
  • Develop a relationship with your interviewer – use eye contact (but don’t stare) and try where possible to word your answers in such a way as to reflect some aspect of the interviewer’s character (but be careful that you have read the signs correctly). Shared characteristics can help build rapport but if you suddenly start exhibiting characteristics which the interviewer doesn’t like, this could backfire!
  • Just be yourself – the more comfortable and at ease you are, and the more naturally you deliver your answers, the better your chances will be.

Professional Interview Coaching

At The CV Centre, day in day out, we successfully coach our clients to truly excel at interview.  This enables us to bring you the very best of what we have learnt - helping you to excel at interview yourself.

When it comes to interviews, people often think, "Well, I'll just turn up and be myself."  Which is fine, but it won’t get you the job!  You need to plan and prepare for an interview as you are still up against many other applicants and this is your key opportunity to make an impact.  Your CV may get your foot in the door but you're on your own in the interview – and sometimes the most able candidate on paper can really shoot themselves in the foot when they actually get to the interview.

On average, there's likely to be at least 5 other candidates being interviewed for the same vacancy. So, everything else being equal, that gives you, at the most, a 20% chance of getting the job.  But there's so much you can do to improve your odds of success.

Learn more

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