The Importance of the Behavioural Interview

When your company is looking for a recruit to replace a departing team member or to fill a newly created role, it’s always best to start with the broadest pool of candidates possible. In the initial stages of the application process, it should be easy for candidates to contact you directly to apply for the job. Adding roadblocks at this stage could discourage promising candidates from applying.  Once you have a long list of applicants, you whittle it down to create a short list of the most promising applicants by using behavioural interviewing techniques, which will weed out unsuitable candidates.

What are Behavioural Interview questions, and why should you use them?

A bad hire is expensive, and just because someone’s perfect on paper, it doesn’t mean they’re a good fit for your business. Behavioural interviewing looks beyond the basic requirements for a job and considers a person’s skills and abilities based on their past workplace behaviour, which is a reliable predictor of future behaviour. Behavioural interviewing requires candidates to respond with specific examples of past experiences rather than generalized or hypothetical responses.  The interview questions are designed to gather examples of previous behaviour, which will then assist the interviewer in determining how candidate will act in similar situations in the future.
Using this line of questioning benefits both interviewer and interviewee as it helps ensure you’re both well matched.

Behavioural interviewing techniques will elicit more complex responses than typical interview questions such as “how to do you define success?” or “what are your strengths and weaknesses?”. Traditional lines of questioning can be misleading as a candidate could generalise or lie in their response. A behavioural interviewing question will elicit an authentic, detailed response that reveals how a candidate behaved in a recent real-life situation.

Some examples of Behavioural Questions are:
1.    Describe a difficult problem you’ve encountered at work and how you dealt with it.
2.    Explain a situation in your past in which you disagreed with a team member’s decision and how you dealt with it.
3.    Describe a situation when have you were under tremendous pressure on the job and how you handled it?
4.    Tell me about a situation in the past where you have made a mistake or run into trouble on a project and how you solved it.

Shaping your Behavioural Interviews using the STAR Acronym.

There is no set list of behavioural questions an employer can ask, and it’s best if you generate questions that are unique to your business and the position you need to fill.  Tailoring these questions to understanding the interviewees' past behaviours when acting in similar roles, tasks or positions to those being interviewed for can support understanding how the candidate will fit into the role and company.  Unique, company-specific questions will prevent applicants from preparing responses in advance and increases the chance that their response will be genuine.

An excellent way to create useful behavioural interview questions is to ensure that the candidates’ answers will include the following information, as summarised by the STAR acronym: 

  • Specific Situation – An example of a specific setting or circumstance encountered in the workplace.  Questions that require the candidate to outline specific details and scenarios from a previous job experience.
  • Task – The specific work done, or challenge faced in a situation. This encompasses getting specific examples about tasks that relate to future tasks in the new role.
  • Action – The action that was taken by that person. These can be heard in terms of ‘action verbs’ and description of what the candidate actually did in certain scenarios.
  • Results – The results or consequences of that action. What was the actual outcome, what did they learn or grow as a result of this and how did they deal with and achieve the results?

By using the “STAR” questions you will ensure that each candidate provides practical examples of qualities you do or do not want in an employee.

During the Interview

To ensure the behavioural interview process goes as smoothly as possible, give the applicant enough time to formulate their answer. Be as clear and descriptive in your line of questioning as possible, asking for details when necessary. Remember that there are no right or wrong answers, only a window into how well a person will fit a role or workplace culture based on their past experiences.

Interviewing candidates is an art.  Candidates will be nervous and can be stressed by the requirement to talk about themselves, this can mean they don’t answer as well as they could or come across naturally.  The skills in interviewing are paramount to ease this stress and make the candidate comfortable, but at the same time find the real indicators that will allow you to recruit the right person the first time.

If you find the behavioural interview process time-consuming or challenging, Teamfinder is happy to manage the process on your behalf. Contact us to find out how we can help find candidates that are the right fit for your company.  

Like what you read?  Subscribe to Teamfinder today to get great new content sent to you:

About Teamfinder

Teamfinder is a recruitment company which connects great businesses with great candidates, we like to do things a little differently and see ourselves as next generation recruitment company.  

If you would like to know more about how Teamfinder can support your business with your recruitment needs then get in touch with us via email at or give us a call on 1300 962 532

Daniel Jones