How to Ace a Behavioral

If you are a player in the center of the challenging job market arena, in order to be truly competitive, you need to be well armed for the interview Chances are good that many of your interviews will include behavioral-style questions. 

Behavioral interviews are based on the idea that the best predictor of future performance is past performance. Instead of asking you questions about specific traits or skills, an interviewer using the behavioral approach will ask you to describe a time when you actively demonstrated that skill or trait. This style of interviewing provides employers with insight into your personality and motivation. In this more structured process, the interviewer is primarily interested in learning about your work results and accomplishments. Your approach to answering these questions can also demonstrate your ability to perform in stressful situations.

To shine brightly in a behavioral interview with insightful, organized and coherent answers, requires careful preparation. This is indeed a test, so do your homework.

Examples of behavior-based interview questions: Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way. 

Give an example of an important goal you had set in the past and describe your success in reaching the goal.

How do you respond to failure?

Tell me about a time when you had to work on a team with someone who didn’t like you.

What are three accomplishments you are most proud of?

How to prepare and succeed in behavioral interviews

The easiest way to begin preparing for any interview that includes behavioral learning is to take out your resume and identify examples that adequately describe or demonstrate your work and personal style.  As you review keep in mind:


  • Your major tasks and responsibilities

  • Some specific accomplishments or results

  • Problems or obstacles you encountered and how they were resolved

  • Skills and abilities developed or strengthened

  • What you learned about the job/field

  • What you learned about yourself including any transitions

  • How you handled difficult people or stressful situations

  • Difficult decisions and what process you used to determine the outcome.


  • How you would describe yourself? Think of three adjectives

  • What do you like to do outside of work?

  • What motivates you?

  • What are your professional goals?

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strategy-The STAR Method

The STAR method has been shown to be an effective strategy for preparing for behavioral based questions.

Situation or Task: Focus sharply on the situation or task your work required you to accomplish. Then provide enough detailed information to ensure that the interviewer understands the nature and quality of the work energy spent. You can draw on previous jobs, volunteer experience or a relevant event.

Action: Describe the action you took in response to situation or task.

Results: What happened? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?