Let’s face it, job interviews are not high on the list of things we love to do but they are, or will be, required of you throughout your life.

I had a chat with a student this week who had been preparing for his interview but he was worried about answering the behavioural/competency based questions. These days these types of questions happen at nearly every formal interview so it is important to get to grips with how to answer them.

Behavioural/competency based interview questions are “designed to probe your previous experiences in order to determine how you might behave in similar situations in the future.”  You will give examples of stories from your past which will be “evaluated for evidence of your intellectual competence, leadership, teamwork, personal skills, adjustment and flexibility, motivation, communication skills, administrative skills, and technical abilities.”

“A thorough answer should describe the Situation, the Tasks with which you were charged, the Action you took, and the Result of your action.”  This STAR model will provide you with important structure to your answers.

This article from The Drexel University in America describes in great detail what the STAR model is and how to use it to prepare for these questions. See here: http://www.drexel.edu/scdc/resources/STAR%20Method.pdf 

What I will add to the above article is to practice your answers! Read as many practice questions and answers as possible and practice them out loud. I’m a big advocate at doing this because the answer always sounds different in your head. If at all possible get someone to listen to your answers. An objective appraisal of how you sound is great feedback. 

If you get asked a question you haven’t practiced or anticipated try not to let it throw you off course. It is perfectly acceptable to take a few moments to think of an answer. If necessary, simply tell your interviewer that you “may need to think about this for a few moments”.  A few seconds of thinking about what you will say is much better than 10 minutes of rambling.  When answering questions you hadn’t anticipated or practiced it can be very easy to let words like “um,” “ya know,” “well,” “like,” “yeah….no” slip into your answer. These are all words we use without thinking but they can indicate uncertainty and a lack of professionalism so be aware of your grammar.

Finally, if you want to see some visual examples of these questions we have some great behavioural/competency based interview DVDs here at Vic Careers that you can come in and view at any stage.

 Quotes taken from The Drexel University Careers website.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. […] with my cousin about interviewing. At the company where she works, they conduct interviews using behavioral/competency based questions. I’ve also heard this called targeted selection interviewing. The object of it is to use […]



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