Behavioural questions usually begin with “give me an example of…?” They help hiring managers go beyond your resume and are designed to assess your ability to handle different situations relevant to the role you are interviewing for. As my manager Christina says, it’s important to remember that previous performance is a strong indicator of future performance!
When answering these, the best way is to structure your response using the SAO method- Situation, Action, and Outcome.
What does SAO mean?
The key to this method is in the detail, be concise and be specific!
Situation: Talk about an actual event. Include the time, the place, who was involved and what the situation was.
Action: Explain the steps you took in the situation. Avoid using the words “we”. The interviewer wants to know what YOU did, or how YOU responded.
Outcome: Wrap the answer up by explaining what the outcome or result was. Hiring managers want to know what happened as a result of the actions you took.
What are some common behavioural competency questions and how do I prepare?
You never know what questions interviewers are going to ask, but using a method to answer them will definitely help you stay on track and make you feel more in control. And just like anything else answering these questions, and interviewing, will get easier with practice!
Let’s have a look at some examples below:
“Tell me about a time when you’ve gone above & beyond?”
Hiring managers want to know that if they invest in you, you will perform to your best of your ability and not just go through the motions when you’re at work. It’s handy to have an example of a time where you have done something outside of your expected routine to achieve success.
E.g. Last month, the office receptionist was away sick and there was a back log of emails and messages that needed to be attended to… to minimise disruption to the office work flow, I took it upon myself to respond to as many as I could, in addition to my regular tasks. This allowed work to continue smoothly across the business and minimised stress for the receptionist when he returned.
“When have you dealt with a difficult situation?”
Resilience is not something that can be taught- you either have it or you don’t. The interviewer wants to know that you won’t run away or shut down if things get tough. This is your opportunity to assure them that you can handle the tough times too.
E.g. Yesterday a customer called to follow up on an order that was late, they were extremely irate about the inconvenience. I let them express their frustrations and reassured that I would try to help. I took their details, gave a time frame of when they could expect a response from me, and did everything I could to get the product to them ASAP. The customer was thankful, but the most important thing about this situation is that I didn’t let the customers frustrations get to me. I made sure every customer after that call, still received a high level of customer service with a happy disposition.
“Can you give me an example of a time when you have demonstrated excellent communication skills?”
Communication is key in any business or industry! Managers want to know that you can adapt your language to deal with different audiences. Be sure to give examples relative to the role you are applying for.
E.g. In my current role, I liaise with people in corporate environments on a regular basis. Just last week I had to respond to an email on my boss’ behalf, so I made sure I was responding with professional language and was clear and concise when trying to coordinate a meeting with a high profile client. When drafting the agenda, I made sure I used terms relevant to our client’s industry. This allowed the meeting to be arranged efficiently and contributes to maintaining strong business relationships.
What are behavioural competency questions?