Skip to main content
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication
OLC Student Community Coordinator

empty
a candidate smiling at her interviewer
Credit
pexels.com
The idea [of a behavioural interview] is that by asking about a time you handled a difficult situation they can use your past actions to predict future behaviour.

There’s no shortage of interview formats or styles that can throw even the most experienced interviewee off their game, but if you familiarize yourself with as many of these as possible, you’ll be less likely to show up unprepared. Which is why this series is here, so you can become familiar with the multitude of interview styles you could face.

In behavioural interviews questions will focus less on how you would behave in a certain situation, and more on how you have handled similar situations. You will most likely come across these types of questions within a general interview. The idea is that by asking about a time you handled a difficult situation they can use your past actions to predict future behaviour. This is the perfect place to use the STAR method – Situation, Task, Action, Resolution.

The Good

  • This type of interview is generally considered the best at predicting employee success, so learn how to ace it and you’ll have a good shot at being hired.

  • These questions give you an opportunity to bring up experience that may not have fit anywhere in your resume, or to further highlight your most rewarding or successful experiences.

The Bad

  • These interviews tend to be longer, and you may struggle with not repeating the same or similar experiences.

  • It can be tougher to gauge how well you’re doing.

The Helpful

  • Prepare several STAR examples that could apply to a variety of questions, then you can quickly tailor them to something more specific.

  • Focus on experiences that resulted in positive outcomes. If you are asked about an experience with a negative outcome make sure to follow through with what you learned, and how you dealt with the misstep.

  • There are no right or wrong answers, but you do need to provide enough information for the interviewer to determine if your past performance suits their requirements.

  • Don’t lie or exaggerate your experiences, your interviewer has likely sat through dozens of these and can spot a lie.

Potential Questions

Tell me about a time when you...

  • Had to deal with a difficult customer or client.

  • Worked under tight time deadlines.

  • Were forced to make and justify an unpopular decision.

  • Had to deal with a difficult boss or co-worker.

  • Made a mistake at work and how you dealt with it.

  • Completed a successful project.

OLC Student Community Coordinator

You Might Like These... Interviews, Professional Development

Handshaking
To Shake or Not to Shake? “Sick Handshake” Etiquette

Going to an interview used to be so simple. What could be easier? Well, maybe a lot of things, but at least steps 1 through 4 were pretty straightforward. Right? I mean, what could possibly go wrong with introducing yourself and shaking hands?

Helen shaking hands with another person
Find Out About Informational Interviews

There was a time when I didn’t know what informational interviews were. Little did I know that I could contact people who had positions that sounded interesting and ask about what they did! Can you imagine how shocked I was when I found out, I wondered why would anyone want to help me?

David
Working For the Feds: An Interview with CIDA’s Executive Vice President, David Moloney

Read about David Moloney, the Executive Vice President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and someone who "“…can’t decide what he wants to do when he grows up,” as he shares with us his experience working in government.  

You Might Like These... Interviews

Microsoft Headquarters
BIG Company Interviews - Microsoft

The Online Learning Community takes a focus in  this article on how to tackle an interview with one of the biggest - Microsoft.

Two bosses
The Other Side of the Desk: Interview Tips From an Interviewer's Perspective

Ever wonder what an interviewer is thinking during your interview? Here’s Bernice to give you a sneak peek thanks to her experience on an SFSS hiring committee!

Natalie
The Panel Interview: 5 Things You Should Know

When you think of an “interview”, do you normally think of a one on one interview? That’s what I used to think of.  However, as a co-op student you might experience panel interviews.  Read on to find out what you should know before a panel interview.