What is a behavioural interview?
Behavioural questions are now common in interviews, but candidates still fear these probing questions. It is estimated that 80% of the interview is made up of behavioural questions.
Behavioural interviewing or competency based interviewing explores competencies which are required and candidate’s suitability for the role.
This is accomplished by asking questions that relate to your past behaviour in certain situations. The philosophy is that how you acted towards certain circumstances in your previous roles is a reliable indicator of how you will act in your new role.
This is especially true for technical roles, the employer want to assess how you handled a situation from your past and what the outcome was, he/she is looking for a particular person with a certain competency to fulfil the role they are interviewing for.
What are behavioural questions?
Competency-based interview questions typically begin with the phrase, “Tell me about a time when…”, “Give me an example of…”, “Describe a situation where…”, the interviewer is looking for you to match the role competency with your answer.
So how can you identify these competencies? Review the job description or job advert, they will have “what you will bring to the role”, or “about you”, those are the skills they are trying to match.
It is very difficult to think of great examples in an interview and answer these types of questions, that is why you need to identify the competencies and match them to situations you have handled in the past.
If the job description or advert mentions teamwork, chances are they are looking for someone to fit into a team, not a lone wolf.
Preparation before your big interview
Once you have identified the key competencies the employer is looking for, it is now time to prepare for the big day. See part two of this blog for example competencies and questions you may be asked.
The main way to structure a competency based question is using the STAR technique.
(S) Situation – Give a brief overview of the situation or project you worked on, a concise description to provide context and assist the interview to understand how difficult situation / project was to the organisation.
(T) Task – Describe the task that you were challenged to complete
(A) Action or Approach – Walk the interviewer how you approached the situation, what actions did you take. Make sure it is about you, don’t use “we” or “the team”, the interviewer is not employing your team.
(R) Result – This is your “ta-da” moment, you need to prove to the interviewer that you achieved significant positive results.
“Give me an example of a network upgrade you managed and how you delivered it.”
Situation – Our VMware platform needed to upgraded in both hardware and software, with six servers running production servers, this was a challenge without any business downtime.
Task – My first task was to project plan the rollout and ensure we met timelines, as the old servers were being leased and being returned within two months. Obtaining and building the new architecture and migrating the servers to the new platform.
Actions – I carried out performance planning and proposed an architecture, which was approved by my manager. Obtained three quotes for servers and associated hardware, and locked in the purchasing order with the vendor. Ensured there was enough power in the server room to accommodate the new servers and rack space, I found out that we had to upgrade the power unit and install new electrical points. I managed downtime for some other servers to allow for room for the new servers in the rack.
During the week, I built the new infrastructure alongside the vendor, tested processes like high availability and fail over, before placing any live servers on the system.
I completed the change management procedure and had all stakeholder sign off.
I communicated to the business that there would be intermittent server performance over the weekend from Friday at 5pm. On Friday evening and throughout the weekend, I managed the migration, both in the office and remotely of all the production servers and ensured the new servers had load balanced workloads.
The following week, I left the old servers in place, in case there was a fault on the new platform. The old servers were wiped clean and decommissioned and returned at the end of the lease.
Result – The new servers were built to deliver more performance and future growth for the company. The business noticed the performance in their applications, the VMware had enhanced features due to the upgrade and were easier to manage.
In the next part of this blog, we will go over typical competencies and related questions, where you can start to build up your question and answer document. We advise answering all the questions and you will quite quickly see your strong and weak answers, and how you can win at the behavioural part of the interview and secure the role.