How to Ace a Behavioural Interview: 4 Pro Tips for Success

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I’ve got a stack of resumes here. No pressure, but I’d like you to sit down and prove to me that you’re the absolute best candidate for this position. Easy, right?

Behavioural interviews can be intimidating for candidates. You’re tasked with demonstrating that you’ve tackled relevant challenges in the past and came out smelling like roses.

But here’s the thing: you probably have! Let’s convey that. Now is not the occasion for canned answers that Chat GPT wrote for you. It’s time to get real, but how?

We asked Goldbeck Recruiting President Henry Goldbeck for some thoughts. Heed these four pieces of advice and nail your behavioural interview.

1. Prepare for Behavioural Interviews by Writing Your Own Biography

The best way to prepare for a behavioural interview is to become very familiar with your own career history.

“Write a biography for yourself,” urges Goldbeck. “We tend to forget the details of our own work history. It’s difficult to suddenly remember them all during an interview.”

Goldbeck advises that job seekers journal their own career, starting with their most recent position and working backwards.

“Note your responsibilities and accomplishments,” he recommends. “Writing them down will stimulate further memories. Journaling should be an ongoing task.”

This familiarity will come in handy during interviews, allowing you to effortlessly provide real world examples and avoid the urge to muscle in pre-selected anecdotes that don’t answer the given question.

Goldbeck believes that candidates should consider the position at hand.

“The more you know about the job, the more you’ll be able to focus your journaling on that area,” he says.

2. Remember: The Interviewer Doesn’t Know You

People often take for granted that other people understand the details of their position. Goldbeck observes that this is especially the case with those who have been at their position for an extended period of time. He says that this is a mistake and advises interviewees to consider their explanations carefully in order to avoid selling themselves short.

“Reflect on how you’re going to detail what you’ve accomplished and how,” he says. “Think about it as if you’re explaining the job to a child.”

3. Use the STAR Method to Demonstrate Competency

The STAR Method is an approach to interviews that allows you to elaborate upon your experience by detailing a Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

“It’s best to start from the beginning and be clear,” says Goldbeck. “Explain the situation, how you assessed it, how you fixed it, and the result. Tout your successes, but avoid long-form storytelling.”

4. Alleviate Concerns by Knowing What You Don’t Know

Sometimes a candidate will see themselves as a great fit for a job, but will find themselves lacking in a certain qualification. Goldbeck doesn’t believe that this is a deal breaker, but urges candidates to avoid being caught unaware.

“One of the best strategies is to know what you don’t know,” he says.

It may be that a candidate hasn’t used a certain software, or dealt with a particular type of sales account. It will come up, so a proactive approach is best. You have more credibility if you address yourself rather than waiting for the interviewer to bring it up. 

“If you know what you don’t know, you’ll be able to address it,” says Goldbeck. “Tell the employer what you plan to do to gain proficiency and when. Your plan to get  up to speed will reassure them.”

Preparing for Behavioural Interviews

It’s only human nature for people to feel a slight tinge of anxiety when they’re about to be placed on the spot. It is possible, however, for people to manage these emotions. Preparing for a behavioural interview is really about understanding yourself and your worth, and being ready to express and demonstrate that value.

“A lot of it has to do with communication skills,” Goldbeck concedes. “There are many people who are very competent at their jobs, but aren’t great at interviews. Others are better at interviewing than they are at their jobs. It becomes the task of the interviewer to properly assess this and select the best candidate, as opposed to the best interviewee.”