Five Tips for Mastering a Behavioral Interview

The premise behind a behavioral interview is that the most accurate predictor of your future performance is your past performance in similar situations. Your responses to behavioral questions provide an objective set of facts to assist the interview team in making a final candidate selection. You support your case with real-life examples that detail how you successfully managed specific challenges based on such core competencies as:

  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Decision making
  • Organization
  • Analytics
  • Problem solving
  • Negotiation

Research the Company and the Job

The best way to master a behavioral interview, in a single word, is: Prepare. This starts by thoroughly researching your potential employer and the position on the table.

  • Cover the social media bases. Conduct a Google search of the company and check out its website. Look for the organization on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and less traditional sites such as Glassdoor, Pinterest or Instagram.
  • Note keywords. Look for the keywords used in web content, job postings and descriptions. These will most likely resurface during the interview process.
  • Reach out to your contacts and connections. Learn all you can and try to get the perception of one or more “insiders” who know the company and its culture.

Anticipate the Questions

Put yourself in the employer’s position. If you were them, what specific questions would you ask a candidate?

  • Identify the company’s needs. Then list your accomplishments and connect the dots. In doing so, keep a focus on the core competencies required for the job.

Take the SAR Approach

Think back to situations in your past experience where you made a highly successful impact on business results. Don’t read from your resume; rather, commit these scenarios to memory ahead of time and be ready to present them in a succinct but compelling fashion. Use the SAR approach:

  • S = situation. Describe a particular situation that relates to the question. This should encompass 10 percent of your response.
  • A = action. Talk about the actions you implemented in response to the situation – and why. The bulk of your response (60 percent) should be here.
  • R = results. Using numerical data whenever possible, describe the results. Spend about 30 percent of your response time here.

Here are a few sample behavioral interview questions:

  • Describe a time when you had to deal with conflict in the workplace and how you resolved it.
  • Tell me about a situation where you had to find a way to do something that seemed unattainable.
  • Describe a scenario when you effectively used your leadership (or teamwork, communication, analytical or negotiating) skills.


When it comes to interviewing, practice really does make perfect. Rehearse possible questions and answers to yourself, in front of a mirror, or with a trusted friend or colleague. Remember to:

  • Keep stories short and to the point. Don’t embellish or go into extreme detail.
  • Speak clearly. Show confidence, clarity and enthusiasm.


Listen carefully to each question. Ask for clarification if necessary.

  • Take a moment. Pause momentarily and give thought to your answer.
  • Maintain strong non-verbal communication. Your body language and tone should support your response. This adds credibility and poise to your overall presentation.

Interview preparation is a great time to partner with a career coach as you take the next step on your successful career journey. The recruiting team at Employment Professionals Canada have years of industry experience and can provide valuable information to mastering a behavioral interview. To learn more, contact our recruiting experts, or browse our great job openings in the Niagara region today!