Behavioural interviews

What are they & what behaviours do interviewers want?

In many ways behavioural interviews are no different from ordinary interviews but they do give you a clue as to the likely direction of the interviewers questions.

Sometimes behavioural interviews are called competency-based interviews and vice versa.

Behavioural interviews are all about ensuring that you have the general skills that will enable you to do the job competently and fit in to the organisation.

An important part of preparing for answering competency-based interview questions is to work out what employers are looking for. The next stage is to identify how you can draw examples from your own experience to illustrate you have those skills (or behaviours).

Research has shown that certain behaviours are generic to many jobs and this has led to the term behavioural interviews being used more frequently.


Research has shown there are certain generic behaviours that nearly all employers are looking for. These are listed these further down the page

Almost all employers in every type of organisation are interested in candidates who demonstrate they have these general skills & behaviours as well as ones that relate specifically to the job you are being interviewed for.

Very often companies will send you a list of 'desirable' behaviours in their job information. This is very valuable and will form the basis of your preparation. We will use it later.

However if you do not have this information you can use our list below.

You can safely assume that this description of professional behaviours will be exactly what the employers are looking for. It will prove essential if you are preparing for a behavioural interview or competency based interview.

If you can weave them into your interview answers you are sure to impress the recruiter and get them interested. They may well be on the interviewers checklist so you may even get some extra 'ticks'

Behavioural interviews generally mean that you will be asked to provide examples that describe to the interviewer how you have performed in the workplace. There is a knack to giving these examples that we are happy to share with you.

Click here to find out how to give examples that will impress the interviewer

Here is the list of behaviours that all employers require in almost any job

Communication and Listening skills

The ability to communicate effectively at all levels in a company and in the wider world is the number one key to success. Behavioural interviewers will use the interview process itself to assess whether you have these skills.

Example Question

How do you communicate with your team? What are your strengths as a communicator?

Goal Orientation

All interviewers look for employees with the drive to achieve results and get the job done. Make sure you have examples to support your answers.

Example Question

Tell me about the goals you have set yourself and whether you have achieved them?

Being a Team Player

High achievers are also team players as it has been proved that working in team is the best way to get work done. Think of examples that show how well you have worked in teams, remembering to include the specific tasks that were required and the results.

Example Question

Describe a time you have worked as part of a team, what were the challenges and what were the results? What part did you play in this project?

Motivation & Energy

Motivation is about commitment, eagerness to learn and a willingness to take responsibility to go the extra mile. Interviewers can spot energy through your body language and the way you express yourself so make sure you feel energised as you go into your interview. Convert your adrenaline into positive energy.

Example Question

When did you last go the extra mile in your job ? And why?

Analytical Skills

This is your ability to weigh up options and possibilities to maximise the chance of success and minimise risk. It is about shrewd problem-solving and decision-making. Interviewers look for people who are able to think things through and predict the consequences. Not those that jump at the first idea to pop into their head.

Example Question

Describe a problem you faced in your workplace? How did you make a decision and what were the consequences?

Dedication and Reliability

Being proud to be part of something bigger than your own job is a desirable quality. It is also about loyalty and stickablilty. Interviewers want people who are likely to stay with the company for the long haul so if you have been a job-hopper make sure you come up with great reasons why and reassure your interviewer that you can be relied on to become a long term committed employee.

Example Question

How long do you plan to stay in the job if you were offered it? Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?


This characteristic is seen in the sort of person who will not back off if things get tough. They will stay and help resolve the problems. They do not rigidly stick to their job description and will go the extra mile the get the best results. They do not give up.

Example Question

What would you do if you felt that things were not going well in the workplace or that you felt frustrated by lack of progress?


At your interview your confidence or lack of it will show through. Confidence is a broad term but it has come to mean someone who can face up to challenges, deal with mistakes positively, is generally prepared to have a go and learn from opportunities. They do not sulk, withdraw, moan and blame. They take responsibility for their feelings as well as their actions. And they do all this without bragging or drawing attention to themselves. Confident people do not steal the limelight but will take the credit when it is deservedly theirs.

Example Question

What problems do you envisage and how would you tackle them? What if you were faced with a task you had never done before? Is there something that would worry you in the workplace?

Pride and Integrity

Being proud means taking joy in what you have achieved on your own or with others. It is about recognising what you have achieved and how much that means. Employers love to find out what you are proud of as it is a good indicator of what makes you tick. Integrity is treating people decently, usually in the way you would hope to be treated yourself. It is about respecting others and being honest, open and fair.

Example Question

What is your proudest achievement? What gives you job satisfaction? What does honesty and fairness mean to you? What would you expect of your boss and your other colleagues?

This list is invaluable as an aide memoir.

Use these behaviours as part of your preparation. Make sure your interview answers cover some of the key behaviours on this list and have examples to support your answer

There are three other general areas that employers and interviewers look for and you should include them with illustrations as appropriate in your behavioural interview answers.

They are:-

Efficiency -your role in eliminating waste meaning, time, and effort as well as resources

Economy -you might like to prepare a couple of examples where you have thought about economy. For example choosing between two solutions one more expensive than the other

Effectiveness –this is about the outcome. You might need to show that you understand that the cheaper solution may not always be the most effective and vice versa

This list of desirable behaviours will help you win interviews and get job offers and they will also provide the backbone of your long term career success. They can help you draw up your CV especially the section that asks you to describe yourself and add any additional information.

Once in the job they are the behaviours that get you noticed and may even help you win in salary negotiations. In short they are the skills that will make you successful. This is why behavioural interviews are so important these days

Behavioural Interviews to Handling the Interview