CAREER EXPERT feat Chris Mead | Issue 80 of HEADHUNT


Dear Chris,

What is behavioural interviewing, why is it used and how should I answer behavioural interview questions?


Tee Hui

Dear Tee Hui,

A behavioural interview attempts to predict future behaviour based on your past behaviour in a similar situation. An interview will typically commence with questions about your general background, before moving on to a series of behavioural questions. These often being with:

“Tell me about a time when …”
“Describe an occasion when …”
“When has it been important to …”

Examples include, “In your previous financial jobs, tell me about a time you had too many things to do and you needed to prioritise your tasks; how did you manage your time and objectives?” and “Describe how you led a team through a difficult project; how did you improve their work?”

Questions are asked to establish various core competencies relevant to the role, such as teamwork, creativity and innovation, decision making ability, business awareness or conflict resolution. The interviewer is looking for examples of past behaviour that demonstrate these competencies.

You should answer behavioural questions with one detailed and specific example that demonstrates your proven skills and ability to successfully perform the particular competency – this means that as you conduct your job search in Singapore, you need to prepare your evidence in advance!

To do this, we suggest you firstly gather as much information about the role as you can to determine the competencies required for success in the job. Then review your past experiences and select examples that demonstrate these competencies. Consider past results, situations you handled well and ways you have contributed to the success of the business.

Armed with this evidence, you should then use the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action and Result) to answer questions. When answering questions in this way, you should firstly describe a situation you were in. For example, a colleague was struggling with performance. Next tell them what you decided to do. For example, sit down with your colleague to discuss how you could help. Then describe what you actually
did. For example, gave your colleague examples of how you improved your own performance. Finally, tell them what happened as a result of your actions. For example, performance improved 35 percent.

It’s best to use an anecdote with a positive outcome, but if this isn’t possible explain what you learnt from the situation and how you would do it differently next time.

Good luck.

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

Chris Mead
General Manager
HAYS Singapore

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