Wednesday, September 9, 2015

How to Ace the Behavioral Interview


“Congratulations! Your resume has been shortlisted for the interview."

These are the words   which give you butterflies in your stomach and put you right into motion.  After the initial mini celebration is over , the big thing dawns on you, that the real deal starts now and hence, you pack up your emotions and begin your preparation for the D-Day—the interview.



But wait! What sort of questions should you prepare for? Would you only be preparing the traditional questions or some behavioral questions as well?

Let’s find an answer to this question by first understanding the basic difference between these two types of interviews.

Traditional v/s Behavioral interview

In a traditional interview, the HR asks some basic set of questions in order to seek as much as information as they can in a given period of time. This includes open and closed ended questions like ‘tell me about yourself?’, ‘why should I hire you?’, and ‘what are your strengths?’, ‘are you open to relocate?’ Such questions help the HR in figuring out the fitment for the given profile. On the other hand, Behavioral interviews are comparatively more comprehensive and difficult to crack. In behavioral interviews, specific questions are asked in order to target and understand a specific behavior of the candidate.

It is a popular belief that  a person’s past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. On the basis of the person’s past performance and work record, an interviewer predicts the future on-the-job behavior of the candidate.


Nowadays, employers lay a lot of focus on the behavioral interviews as they use it as a perimeter   to check, whether you have the competencies needed for the job in question.

For the people who aren’t well aware about the concept of Competency, “Competencies are the set of skills required to perform a particular job.” In simple words, Competency = Job Behavior.

While designing the behavioral questions, the employer considers your resume; the desired competencies required for the job profile in question and then structure the interview questions around it. At the time of the interview, you will be further probed for more details to cross check and to measure your consistency with the answers.

Irrespective of whether you are an experienced professional or a fresh graduate, you should be prepared for the behavioral interviews as they play a very prominent role in helping you get the job.

Preparing for behavioral interviews

Behavioral interviews are quite structured and therefore, your answers should also be likewise, that is, not too long or too short. It’s a kind of ‘story telling’ because you are required to share past instances and experiences to justify your answer.

Therefore, while preparing for such an interview, you should make rigorous efforts to create stories with parlance to the relevant competencies.
  • Creating stories from the past that show favorable behaviors or actions and creating a short description of the same, which covers the relevant information in brief.
  •  All the answers should have proper opening, middle explanation and a conclusion.
  • Be honest  as you can as there would be further probing based on  the answers you give.
  •   Bring variety to the answers in terms of time or the area that you choose to give the example about, like school life, college life, last organization etc.
  • Listen to the question very carefully, evaluate the most relevant example and narrate it carefully.

Remember that it’s just not all about having the right skills, but also about how well you are able to market your skills to the interviewer. And, with the right preparation and marketing behind you, who knows you might land up your dream job because as someone rightly said “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet”.   


- Ms. Priya Bali
  Faculty, INLEAD 

Images Courtesy- Google Images 

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