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Behavior-Based Interviewing

Behavior-Based Interviewing

The behavior-based interview (BBI) is based on the premise that your past behavior may predict how you might handle similar situations in the future. In a behavior-based interview, the interviewer asks questions about your experiences in order to gauge how you would handle certain tasks and problems. The recruiter is looking for proof that you can demonstrate the desired capabilities in the real world.

Typically, campus recruiters ask general questions about previous jobs or activities, future goals, grades, classes, and the like. Although such questions are part of the behavior-based interview, most of the recruiter's questions will be designed to elicit detailed descriptions from you on how you handled yourself in certain situations. BBI challenges you to recall (in detail) what you did, thought, and felt in key situations as if you were reliving them. This allows the recruiter to see the whole picture--your thought process, decision-making skills, and emotional state--as well as the results of your actions. It is a very effective interviewing technique.

How should you handle the BBI? You will be expected to give detailed, but focused, description of actual circumstances. Expect to think--often in painstaking detail-under pressure. Take your time in formulating your response. The interviewer will understand and allow you to gather your thoughts. In your response, be thorough, yet direct: Describe an overview of the situation, the action you took, and the results.

Below are some examples of questions you might be asked in a behavior-based interview; the job competencies they are designed to measure are in parentheses.

  1. Describe a situation in which you had to use reference materials to write a research paper. What was the topic? What journals did you read? (research)

  2. Give me a specific example of a time when a co-worker or classmate criticized your work in front of others. How did you respond? How has that event shaped the way you communicate with others? (communication)

  3. Describe a situation in which you recognized a potential problem as an opportunity. What did you do? (Initiative)

  4. Give me a specific example of a time when you sold your supervisor or professor on an idea or concept. How did you proceed? What was the result? (assertiveness)

  5. Describe the system you use for keeping track of multiple projects. How do you track your progress so that you can meet deadlines? (commitment to task)

  6. Tell me about a time when you came up with an innovative solution to a challenge your company or class was facing. What was the challenge? What roles did others play? (creativity and imagination)

  7. What, in your opinion, are the key ingredients in building and maintaining successful business relationships? Give me examples of how you've made these work for you. (relationship building)

  8. Describe a time when you got co-workers or classmates who disliked each other to work together. How did you accomplish this? What was the outcome? (teamwork)

  9. Tell me about a time when you failed to meet a deadline. What things did you fail to do? What were the repercussions? What did you learn? (time management)
  10. Describe a specific problem you solved for your employer or professor. How did you approach the problem? What role did others play? What was the outcome? (decision making)

Other commonly asked questions in a behavior-based interview are:

Think of a situation where you distrusted a co-worker/supervisor, resulting in tension between you. What step did you take to improve the relationship?

What was the most complex assignment you have had? What was your role?

Provide an example of how you acquired a technical skill and converted it into a practical application.

By providing examples, demonstrate that you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations, and/or environments.

What are three effective leadership qualities you think are important? How have you demonstrated these qualities in your past/current situation?

National Association of Colleges and Employers-Job Choices 2010