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How to conduct an effective behavioural interview for candidates

How to conduct an effective behavioural interview for candidates

At some point or another, we will all have to interview candidates as we climb up the corporate ladder.

Having a new joiner which fits into your company’s values, philosophy, and team dynamics can take results to the next level. On the flip side, having a joiner which does not align his values with you and the firm can cause more distress and unnecessary pressure.

The question is, how do you conduct an effective behavioural interview to see if this candidate is a good fit for your firm and your team?

It is not as easy as you think and a lot of preparation must be done in advance especially if you have just been promoted to a managerial role and starting to interview candidates.

There are subtle tell tale signs to look out for and it takes good observation skills as shown below, courtesy of Korn Ferry.

Before the interview

  • Review the job demands and firm’s competency framework
  • Review the candidate’s CV and/or application
  • Check in with other interviewers to ensure clarity on who is assessing for what
  • Identify the best interview questions:
    • Consider the skills you need in the job + define that skill for yourself
    • Build a question around your skill definition. Start with ‘Tell me about a time when you…’
    • Check questions are open ended, not ‘leading’ + cover all the key skills and competencies required

During the interview

  • Suspend your first impressions, be aware and monitor your biases
  • Take notes on what they say – don’t try to evaluate or score at the same time
  • Keep an eye on the time – allow approx. 5 minutes per question.
  • Interview steps:
    • Set the stage (establish rapport + describe the process)
    • Gain behavioral examples (question + silence + probe + take notes + seek balance)
    • Probe: STAR approach: (Situation + Task + Action + Result)
    • Close: (ask the candidate if there is anything else they wish to share, or any questions they have + thank them for their time + share next steps)

After the interview

  • PREPARE well for the decision making discussion:
    • Summarize your notes + assess the data you have for each behavior and technical competency
  • Ensure clarity before you start the discussion:
    • What are the job demands and the competencies required to meet them?
    • Who was focused on assessing which competencies?
    • Who makes the final call?
  • The discussion itself should be inclusive, collaborative, and challenging:
  • Everyone’s voice should be heard
  • Divergent views should be explored (not dismissed or ignored)
  • Everyone should be prepared to disagree, and to be disagreed with

interview pict

Source: Unsplash

Make use of useful questions, probes and the STAR approach to guide you in the discussion.


Questions include:

  • Tell me about a time when you…
  • What was your involvement…?
  • Can you give me an example to bring that to life…?
  • Think of a specific situation when you had to…
  • What did you say or do…?
  • What did you think when they said that…?


Try to hold your judgement early in the interview and prevent the below sources of bias.


Source: Korn Ferry

Assessing the candidate

When it comes to assessing the candidate whether he / she is a fit:

  • Objectively assess the data you have for each behavior and technical
  • Read through your notes and identify which competencies are supported by the
    data. When in doubt, refer to the competency definitions
  • Decide whether the data is a positive or negative indicator of the behavior or
  • Finally, ‘rate’ the candidate on each competency you planned to measure and
    record this information using the following scale:


Lastly, if you are still not able to make a decision based on the hard facts, I would say to rely on your gut feeling as interviews may not always turn out the way you want it to be. Also, it takes time to properly assess the person on the job and his / her character.

P.S. we have compiled additional useful questions below.

Current/previous jobs
• Describe a typical day in your current/most recent position.
• What do/did you find most satisfying/frustrating about the job?
• What is/was the most challenging aspect of your position?
• What have you learned most from the job? How has that contributed to your growth?
• What five changes would you make if you were your boss?

Work experience
• How has your previous work experience prepared you for this job?
• Describe one or two of your greatest accomplishments and biggest disappointments.
• What is the most significant challenge you’ve managed? How did you manage it?
• Why have you made job changes in the past? What conditions would cause you to make a change today?
• What job did you like most, and why?
• What job did you like least, and why?
• Who has been your favorite boss, and why?
• Who has been your least favorite boss, and why?

• What is your greatest strength that would benefit our organization?
• What can you tell me about a time when you had to evaluate a situation to resolve a problem? What was the situation, and what actions did you take?

• How have you preferred to be supervised in your previous jobs?
• What type of organization do you prefer to work for?
• What kinds traits do you look for in the people you like to work with?

Career aspirations
• How does this job fit into your overall career plans?
• Where do you see yourself three years from now?
• In what areas would you like to receive additional training if you got this job?

• What educational experiences have prepared you for this position?
• What made you interested in your course of study?

Working under pressure or stress
• Have you ever made a risky decision? Why? How did you handle it?
• How have you handled meeting a tight deadline?
• Tell me about the most demanding boss you’ve worked for and how you handled them
• Describe how you’ve completed projects and still maintained high quality
• Give me an example of a time when you took on additional responsibility knowing your plate was already full and what the outcome was
• Describe how you handle high-pressure situations with customers

• How have you handled a new boss who changed your job description?
• Describe a time when you embraced a change being made, when you didn’t agree with the change
• Tell me about the most difficult change you’ve had to implement in your career
• What have you done when you’ve been given a project beneath your level of responsibility or experience?

Time Management
• Give me an example of a decision you postponed and explain why you postponed it
• When you work on multiple projects, how do you prioritize?
• What do you do when your schedule is interrupted? Give an example of how you have handled this situation in the past.
• Describe a time when you missed a deadline, and what the outcome was
• How do you prevent the urgent demands of your job from overshadowing the important ones
• Give me an example of how you make best use of your time

P.P.S Check out Jooble in the link below for more than 693,400 job postings and you’ll be sure to find a job that fits.






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