Practice makes perfect. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. To make sure you put your best forward in a job interview, you must practice. To help you do this, La Trobe University is pleased to offer students a free account with Big Interview, an online job interview e-learning and interview practice website.
The idea behind behavioural-based interviews is that past behaviour is a good indicator of future behaviour. Generally an employer is assessing a candidate against a range of competencies such as team work, problem solving, communication, customer service and so on. You’ll know when you are being asked a behavioural question as it will start with something like ‘Tell me about a time when…’, ‘Give me an example of…’ and ‘Describe a situation when…’.
For behavioural questions, your responses need to demonstrate how you’ve developed or used a competency in the past. It should be quite easy to identify the competency the employer is interested in as key words will form part of the question, for example communication skills, organising ability, problem-solving.
How to give good answers to behavioural questions
Use examples from your past experience to demonstrate each skill. Most of your examples will come from university or work but don’t be afraid to draw on your experiences from volunteer work, participation in sporting teams or community activities if they demonstrate your relevant skills in a clear, positive, credible way. Most importantly, focus on what you did, not what you could have done or what others did.
You’ll need to structure your responses to tell stories about real situations you have been involved in. It’s best if you use examples from paid work but you can also draw on experiences from university or other areas of your life. The STAR method is a clever way to structure your responses and help make them meaningful to the people interviewing you.
Describe the Situation or the Task/problem that needed to be performed/solved
Explain the Action you took and what skills you used
Specify the Results.
Examples of behavioural questions you might be asked in an interview
As a member of a team, how have you handled someone who wasn’t pulling their weight?
Tell me about a situation that you have been in that has required excellent communication skills.
Give me an example of your organising ability.
Tell me about a recent problem you have faced and how you dealt with it.
Think of a situation when your plans have been upset by unforeseen circumstances. What did you do?
Has there been a time when you were unhappy with your performance at work? What did you do about it?
What has been your biggest disappointment and how did you handle it?
Describe a recent situation when you have been under a lot of pressure. How did you handle it?
Have you ever had the opportunity to use your leadership ability? What challenges did you face?
Give me an example of when you have motivated people.
Have you ever had to make an unpopular decision? How did you handle it?
What have you done that shows initiative?
Describe a situation that has required you to do ‘that little bit extra’.
How can you demonstrate your flexibility to me?
Please describe a situation when you have had to deal with a difficult customer.
Many large employers will use a phone screening interview to select candidates for a formal interview to be held in person. The phone interview may be focused on obtaining more details about your experiences and skills, or it could involve a number of behavioural-based questions.
If you are given a time for your phone interview, make sure you are able to be in a quiet space, free of disruptions. Some good tips for phone interviews include standing during the interview, as this will make it easier to speak clearly (like you would giving a presentation to an audience); have your resume and other documents with you for easy reference; and have a notepad and pen to record any important information. Continue reading