Behavior Based Interviewing

The behavior based interview style is based on the belief that the best predictor of an individual's future performance are past behaviors. Behavior based questions usually begin with phrases such as "Describe for me ... Tell me about about a time when ... Give me an example of ..."

Responding to a Behavior Based Question

The ideal way to respond to a behavior-based question is by using the STAR technique:

  • S - Situation: Describe a specific situation that relates to the question.
  • T - Task: Describe your task. What goals did you have?
  • A - Action: Describe the action that you took.
  • R - Result: Describe the positive result or outcome of the situation.

Sample STAR story:

  • Situation (S):
    Advertising revenue was falling off for my college newspaper and a large number of long-term advertisers were not renewing contracts.
  • Task (T):
    My goal was to secure contracts with as many former and new advertisers as possible to generate more advertising revenue.
  • Action (A):
    I designed a new promotional packet to go with the rating sheet and compared the benefits of the newspaper's circulation with other advertising medium in the area. I also arranged for a professor to conduct a special training session about selling strategies for the newspaper's account executives.
  • Result (R):
    We signed contracts with 15 former advertisers for daily ads and five for special supplement ads. Also, the paper increased the number of new advertisers by 20 percent over the same period last year.

How to Prepare

  • Evaluate your own background to identify your skills and experience related to the job objective. Develop, and rehearse, brief scenarios about how you used those skills, each illustrating a specific activity or task required by the job. Each "story" should explain the problem and your solution, and give the results in quantified terms, if possible.
  • Be prepared to provide examples of occasions when results were not as expected, or you dealt with a situation that started out negatively but either ended positively or you made the best of the outcome. The skilled interviewer will probe your skill in handling failure as well as success.
  • Identify three to five top selling points/attributes that set you apart from other candidates and be sure to point them out during the interview.