Behavioural interviewing, also known as ‘competency-based interviewing’, is a common technique among internship and graduate recruiters.
Using the behavioural interviewing technique, employers ask questions testing the specific skills and competencies required for the role. They’ll expect examples of previous experience and achievement to demonstrate evidence of the skill in your answer. The idea behind this type of interview is that past behaviour is an indicator of future performance.
It is important to recognise a behavioural question at interview. They will often start with phrases like "Tell me about a time when...", "Describe a situation where...", and "Give an example of...", prompting you to talk about a specific situation in your answer.
Not all employers will indicate whether your interview is behavioural and some employers use a hybrid interview technique which combines behavioural questions with more general questions. Be prepared by practicing sample behavioural questions before your interview.
First, reread the job ad or job description and look at the selection criteria or skills/attributes required by the employer. Anticipate behavioural questions based on required competencies. Think about the experience you have and look for moments that stand out – there is often a good answer to a behavioural question in experiences that have challenged or tested you. Consider which experiences relate to each selection criterion or key skill. For instance, winning a debating competition may provide evidence of strong communication skills, while consistently exceeding your sales targets at your casual job is a good example of your ability to add value to an organisation.
Depending on the job you are applying for, you can usually use examples from a variety of activities such as work, studies, extracurricular activities, volunteering, sports, or travel. The best examples are recent, relevant and robust (or complex) experiences.
Answering a behavioural question is like telling a story. Choose an appropriate example from your experience and use the STAR formula to keep your story on track:
Spend approximately 80% of your time talking about your actions, as this offers the most convincing evidence of your skills.