Northeastern British Columbia



Traditional interviews focused on questions that were hypothetical, leading, open-ended and resume-based:

  • What would you do if you worked on a team and there was conflict among the team members?
  • You are ok with working overtime, aren’t you?
  • Do you have customer service experience?

For better or for worse, this sometimes led to the hiring of poor employees who could talk a slick story.

Behavioural interviews, on the other hand, require that you talk about prior experiences, based on the criteria the interviewer specifies:

  • Tell me of a time when you worked as part of a team where there was conflict between the team members.
  • Describe to me a time when you had to put in extra hours to complete a project or assignment.
  • Summarize your customer service experience for me.
  • Want more examples? Check out the 25 most popular behaviour-based questions.

In preparing for behavioural interview questions, follow these steps:

  1. Read the job description carefully (consider, in particular, any special job requirements being sought, such as bilingual skills or licensing requirements).
  2. Identify what you think are the key “competencies” that the company is seeking. Some of these competencies may be particular skills, while others may be personal characteristics. (See our discussion of "Five employer concerns.")
  3. Drawing on the "catalog of successes" you've created, summarize your previous experiences that demonstrate those “competencies.”
  4. Remember dates, names, quantities or measurements of success and other details that will convey the situation to the interviewer.

Steps in answering behavioural interview questions:

  1. Give a complete story of an event first.
    • What were the key points?
    • What were the results?
  2. Be specific about what YOU: Did / Said / Felt / Thought.
  3. Separate your actions from the actions of others.
  4. Use "I" examples more than "We" examples.
  5. Ask for clarification if you're unsure of the question.
  6. Watch and listen for interviewer cues.
  7. Don’t make vague proclamations of your skills. Small but telling actions and behaviours are more important than grandiose but unsubstantiated claims of job success.

Negatively phrased questions:

Many interviewers will ask negatively phrased questions to get you to reveal your weaknesses as well as your strengths: "Tell me about a time when you were unable to complete a project on time," or "Tell me about a time when you made a bad decision." You should answer these questions just as you would answer the question, "Tell me about your weaknesses as an employee." That is, answer the question to indicate that:

  1. you have the insight and maturity to understand your own weaknesses, and
  2. you have overcome those weaknesses, or you have reached the point where those weaknesses are no longer a liability in the work place.

We highly recommend learning more about behavioural interviewing techniques:

Tricky Questions Reign In Behavioural Interviews - excellent article
Wall Street Journal

Boston College


Behavioural Interviews


Types of Interviews


Sample Questions

Behavioural Interview Questions    Traditional Interview Questions    Case Interview Questions
Education    Previous Jobs    Company / Job    Questions determining your Competence
Questions on Wages / Salaries    Personal Characteristics    Your Community Involvement


Questions You Can Ask


Questions Not to Ask


5 employer concerns


Before the interview
Commonly asked questions in a traditional interview
    Commonly asked questions in a behavioural interview
    Questions to Ask
    Questions Not to Ask
    Dress for the Interview


Researching before your interview


During the interview


After the interview
     Thank You Letters