Behavioral-Based Interviews (BBIs)

Marlon Mai November 15, 2013 2 mins read

“When did it happen? What was going through your head at the time? How did you respond to the problem?”

“At a time when it was obvious your client was giving you a hard time, how did you deal with it?”

“What’s your biggest achievement? How did you make it happen?”

“What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?”

The above questions frequently surface in the job interview process. Although they appear simple, many candidates are unable to provide satisfactory answers. In response to the strengths and weaknesses question, for example, interviewees will usually choose a bland answer from the lineup of usual suspects: coordinating skills, study skills, leadership ability and ability to adapt. These responses barely make the cut, and are rarely backed up with real-life evidence. If you say you’ve got outstanding leadership and coordinating skills, talk about a specific project and your role in it, how you led the team in resolving various problems and how you ultimately completed the project in a smooth and successful manner. By using factual examples of your own previous behavior, you inspire trust in interviewers, and give them reason to believe you’ll maintain your strengths and improve your weaknesses when in the new position.

Using an understanding of an interviewee’s past behavior to predict their appropriateness for a new job position is the essence of a BBI, which is based on the premise that past behavior is an accurate indicator of future behavior. The above questions are often-heard in interviews, and serve mainly to probe a candidate’s personal quality, work experience, relationships with colleagues and other relevant factors. When giving responses, you can follow the STAR method: ‘Situation’ includes the time, place, project and people involved in the event; ‘task’ includes work goals and plans, and the problems encountered; ‘action’ refers to the measures you took in response; and ‘result’ refers to outcomes and achievements.

On this foundation, the interviewer and candidate can engage in a detailed question and answer session, giving each party a comprehensive understanding of their counterpart and increasing the efficacy of the entire interview process.

Marlon Mai's picture
Managing Director | Finance & Accounting, IT, Sales & Marketing Recruitment
mmai@morganmckinley.com