Are you prepared for Behavioural Interview Questions?

Updated: Mar 17

If you are heading for an interview, you need to know that you are very likely going to be asked at least one (more likely 2 or 3) Behavioural Interview Questions. What are Behavioural Interview Questions (BIQ for short) and do you know how to answer them?

The good news is - you can prepare for the BIQs. By practicing, as much as you can, preferably aloud.

So, first of all, what are BIQs and why are you likely to get asked a few of these questions? BIQs are based on the assumption that your past behaviour is an indicator of how you will behave in the future. So, the questions are being asked so that your potential employer is able to make their best guess about how you will be behave in their company should you be hired. The questions are angled towards specific tasks or roles you may have in your previous experiences. It is important that your answers provide concrete and verifiable evidence as to how you may have reacted or dealt with certain situations in the past. Above all, be honest, as your interviewer may be able to suss out people who are creating fictional stories or do a check on the facts you have spelt out.

There are a few categories of BIQs that are common and these are the key categories:

Motivation and Values

Motivation and Values questions usually creep up on candidates in a very unsuspecting manner. It may come across indirectly and in a seemingly random manner, but the questions are being asked to figure out the "real" you - what makes you tick?

"Tell me about your proudest achievement", "Describe a moment when honesty is not the best policy", "Describe a time when you had an idea rejected", "What makes you get out of bed every morning?".

Time Management Skills

All managers want to hear that you have a certain degree of time management skills, where you can demonstrate that you are someone who is able to manage multiple projects or responsibilities at the same time, who is able to plan and execute projects and juggle or multitask well, and most importantly, understand and respect the concept of deadlines.

"Have you felt overwhelmed at work before due to too many responsibilities? How do you deal with it?", "Have you managed or team lead a project before? What do you feel are the challenges?", "Describe the last time you had to rush for a deadline".

People Skills

The extent of this category of questions will depend if the job you are interviewing for requires you to be client facing. If it is client facing, you can expect that your interview will dwell on this category for quite a while. If the role does not require you to talk to clients, the interviewer will likely still want to know if you will get along with the others in the company. Bear in mind that your new employer is not just assessing your skills, but he/she needs to assess your fit with the existing people in the company.

"Have you worked with someone who has a different personality from you and can you describe that experience?" "What is your worst experience with a client?" "How would you describe your behaviour in a team setting?" "Have you had to apologise to a client before?"

Communication Skills

With communication skills, its not just to prove your prowess in speaking, but to show your thought process and your ability to think about communication beyond verbal channels.

"Tell me about a time you had to disagree with your superiors? How did you present your opinions?" "What is your opinion about using emails vs speaking directly to team members?"

Arm yourself with examples of sample situations from the past. Try and have a few in mind so that you don't find yourself referencing the same situation. Each time you answer a BIQ, try to stay structured. You can use the acronym CAR - Context, Action, Result.

Practice some of these questions, think through the categories above and remember to let your past work be the proof of what you are capable of doing for your potential employer.

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