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Winning at Behavior-Based Interviewing

CATEGORY: Interview tips
POSTED: August 7, 2014 at 10:21 am

Many human resources professionals and staffing/recruiting firms have come to rely on the Behavior Based Interviewing (BBI) method as an important tool to discover exceptional candidates: those candidates who will hit the ground running, have continuous success, and stay with the employer long-term.

Often, frontline managers BBI questions without ever even having heard the term. One very large staffing/recruiting firm, Robert Half International, makes it a point to educate their clients in how to best ask BBI questions.

“There is a seemingly endless variety of job interview questions,” the article explains. “With behavioral interview questions, candidates are asked to relate past on-the-job experiences to situations they are likely to encounter in the position being discussed.”

Defining BBI

BBI can be defined as using types of questions specifically designed to expose characteristics about a candidate that an employer sees as important. BBI questions are meant to produce a response that demonstrates a candidate’s positive or negative behavior in certain situations. Put another way: past performance is a good indicator of future success.

Some typical BBI questions that Robert Half includes in their article are:

“Can you describe how you handle tight deadlines on the job?”

“Can you give me an illustration of how you improved productivity at your last job?”

The Co-operative Education & Career Services Department at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada explains “(q)uestions that start with ‘tell me about a time when…’ are popular because they show how you’ve handled difficult situations in the past—which is a good indicator of how you will deal with similar situations in the future.”

Preparing for the Behavior Based Interview

Preparation for BBI is an ongoing process. A good practice is to keep track of your success stories throughout the year. In addition to making prepping for behavioral interview questions easier, it will help with updating your resume. Plus, you’ll find these to be valuable when you have your annual review with your supervisor.

The career experts at Guelph suggest using the STAR Approach when faced with BBI questions.

STAR stands for:

Situation (or)


Action (you took)

Results (you achieved)

The advice that Guelph gives includes the following steps:

  • Understand what skill the interviewer is looking to learn more about
  • Have a story prepared that illustrates your success
  • Describe the situation and the task
  • Explain the actions you took that illustrate the skill you have been questioned about
  • Finally, relate the results and summarize the relevance


Keep these tips in mind for behavioral interviews, and you’ll be more than prepared!

Shawn P.

Shawn is an expert resume writer with over 20 years of experience in professional recruitment, staffing, marketing, advertising and communications. He authors dozens of executive level resumes each year.

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