How to Prepare for
The Behavioral Interview

The behavioral interview is a proven and widely-used method of exploring a candidate's suitability for the position. It goes beyond just looking at the candidate's educational and work history to determine the right fit, asking the candidate for specific examples of past behavior as they relate to the job requirements.

This type of job interview is based on the logic that past behavior predicts future behavior and seeks previous evidence of required job-related behaviors.

What is a behavioral interview?

Behavioral interviewing or competency based interviewing explores workplace competencies that are required for successful job performance.

If the job requires a person to be able to analyze and find solutions to problems the interviewer will ask the candidate to provide an example of when they previously displayed that behavior.

"Tell me about a problem you uncovered in your previous job. What steps did you take to sort it out?"

It is often difficult to think of good examples within the time constraints and stressful context of a job interview.

Know which behaviors (sometimes referred to as competencies) are required in the position by reviewing the job description and requirements.

What examples is the interviewer looking for?

Looking back at your past jobs, prepare good examples using the following technique:

  • Describe the specific situation or task you were involved in
  • Detail the action and steps you took in the situation
  • Outline the results and outcome of your actions. What happened, what was accomplished, what did you learn

Listen carefully to the questions asked and, if need be, ask for further clarification. Answer with an appropriate and specific example. Often the interviewer will ask follow-up questions to get more information.

"Tell me why you did that"

"Take me through your decision process"

"How did you feel about that"

so it is essential to have a complete, actual example to draw on. 

Behavioral interview questions and answers

View common behavioral interview questions that explore

  • problem-solving
  • initiative
  • judgment

Use the sample behavioral answers to prepare for questions about these core job competencies.

Click here for the behavioral sample interview question that explores the candidate's

  • ability to handle stress
  • resilience
  • adaptability

Go to the behavioral questions that explore the key competencies of:

  • teamwork
  • leadership
  • negotiation skills

required in a large number of jobs.

For administrative, accounting and office management jobs expect behavioral questions that explore the candidate:

  • attention to detail
  • work standards
  • ability to plan and organize


Management, marketing and sales job interviews will include questions that explore:

  • analytical ability
  • persuasiveness
  • creativity

Get sample behavioral answers for these type of interview questions.

Get help with preparing answers to competency based interview questions asked to determine the candidate's:

  • reliability
  • integrity
  • energy levels

Keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers, it is an attempt to see how you behaved in a given situation. It is not possible to fabricate an example. The interviewer's in-depth probing will quickly expose this.

Examples can be taken from any context as long as they clearly detail the required behavior.

The specific job interview guide provides a list of behavioral questions relevant to each job-type with guidelines on the best interview answers.

Use these expert tips for behavioral job interviews to give you the confidence that you know exactly how to handle this type of interview.

Complete list of behavioral based interview questions

View examples of frequently asked situational interview questions with answers.

Find all the help you need with your answers to behavioral job interview questions.

These are the 12 core competencies identified as critical for job success. Different jobs require specific competencies or behaviors but these 12 core competencies are required for acceptable job performance in nearly all career fields.

Job Interviews > Behavioral Interview


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