A behavioral interview is designed to provide the employer with an in-depth look at your abilities. Employers will ask for specific examples of how you did things or handled certain situations. The thought process behind these questions is that past performance is a good predictor of future actions.

How to Prepare

Analyze the job or position for which you are being interviewed and determine the skills required. Evaluate your own background to identify your skills and experience related to the job.

Develop and rehearse concise scenarios about how you have used your skills, being as specific as possible. Outline each “story” using the STAR approach (see below). Be prepared to give examples of occasions when results were different than expected. Your skill in handling failure as well as success is important.

Be prepared for questions asking for more detail than you have given in your initial answer. Identify three to five of your top selling points (that is, attributes that set you apart from other candidates). Be sure you get the chance to point them out during the course of the interview.

Example question: Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.

STAR Technique

  • Situation - What was the situation?
  • Task - What was the task at hand?
  • Action - What did you do?
  • Result - What was the outcome?

Create multiple stories using STAR that will relate to a wide range of your skills.

Example STAR Answer

  • Situation – In my previous position, I managed multiple events for our department.
  • Task – Our attendance rates were low, and it was my responsibility to improve them.
  • Action – I hired a part time marketing intern and assigned the task of creating flyers, posters, and email advertisements. In addition, I created a survey for each event to gather feedback from attendees to determine how to improve our events.
  • Result – After aggressive marketing for current programs and gathering feedback from guests of the events, we raised attendance by 22% for events in the second quarter.

Want more practice? Use this list of behavioral interviewing questions and create answers using the STAR technique.