How to Answer Behavioural Interview Questions

Patrick Baker Posted by Patrick Baker on 2 November 2017 Comments

How to Answer Behavioural Interview Questions

If you’ve ever gone to an interview you have probably been subjected to a behavioural question, even if it’s a term you’ve never heard before. While those words might sound daunting, behavioural interview questions aren’t something to be afraid of; they’re just another way for interviews to be run. Also labelled competency-based questions in some circles, these questions are based on the premise that past behaviour is a great predictor of future behaviour. We’re getting more and more feedback about candidates being exposed to these questions in interviews for engineering and construction roles, as opposed to the traditional and straightforward question and answer format, or the vague “tell me about yourself” type questions.

Dealing with Behavioural Questions

Behavioural questions are easy to pick out; most of them will start with the phrase “can you tell me about a time when…”. If you are prepared for this and recognise what the interviewer is actually looking for, you will be in a far better position to be successful in your interview.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to answering these questions, both of which are fairly similar; The CAR technique and the STAR technique.

C – Context: explain the situation you were in.

A – Action: describe what action you took to solve the problem.

R – Result: describe the end result of your action.

OR

S – Situation: describe what happened

T – Task: what it was that you were charged with doing.

A – Action: the action you took to complete your task

R – Result: what happened at the end.

As you can see both are similar, so the best approach is probably to pick the one that you’ll remember! 

As we mentioned earlier, behavioural questions are used to figure out how people behave in certain situations. They’re useful in uncovering the less technical side of your skillset, and are a way for an employer to find out the kind of person you are at work. Here are a few common areas people might seek to understand, and the questions they might use to do so: 

answering behaivoural questions blog graphic 1

Giving an Answer

You’ll note above that we’ve provided some potential questions, but haven’t given you the answers! There are a number of reasons behind that. Firstly, it’s all personal to you, dependent on your own background and experience. Secondly, while you can’t always predict exactly how these questions are going to be put to you; it’s important to come across as authentic in your response, and answers that are too scripted will come across poorly. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the fact is that there is no right answer. Different companies will be looking for different attributes and different roles require different qualities; some roles require strategy and leadership, whereas others require a tactical and pragmatic approach.

The best approach is to think of a few examples in your background that can highlight your best attributes to the employer. Although there are no right or wrong answers, the way you structure your answers is important. Be careful not to go too far off the point on tangents, which is easy to do once you get into storytelling mode. Be aware, be succinct, and focus on the point you are trying to make.

At RobLawMax we’re always helping candidates who have trouble facing these questions. If you are out of practice and need help preparing for an interview, or if you’re looking for exciting new opportunities in the engineering, design and construction sectors, give us a call and we will happily talk you through the process. 

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