Behavioural interview questions focus on how candidates have handled past situations to gain insight into how they might perform in a future role. These inquiry-based questions differ from traditional fact-based queries as they compel the interviewee to provide tangible evidence and real-life examples of skills and achievements. With many companies utilising behavioural queries as part of the comprehensive job interview process in Canada, candidates should be well-prepared with stories and anecdotes that highlight desired attributes.
What to Expect in a Behavioural Interview
In a behavioural interview, the interviewer will typically start with an open-ended prompt intended to spur a story, such as “Describe a situation where you had to meet a strict deadline” or “Describe a situation where you had to resolve a conflict.” The objective is to elicit a focused response where the candidate walks through a prior challenging circumstance step-by-step, explains the actions they took, outlines the results of those actions, and shares key learnings or takeaways. Follow-up questions will gather more detail about thought processes, motivations, and approaches.
Types of Behavioral Interview Questions
While phrasings may vary, most behavioural job interview questions fall into one of these categories:
Leadership: How have you directed teams, managed complex projects, influenced stakeholders, aligned groups toward a vision, or motivated others to maximise performance? What leadership styles did you employ?
Problem-Solving: What processes have you used to identify issues, analyse information, weigh alternatives, and implement innovative solutions? How did you handle ambiguity or roadblocks?
Resilience: How have you dealt with conflicts, failures, mistakes, or other adversities? What did you learn, and how did you grow from those experiences?
Achievements: When have you exceeded expectations, delivered impressive results, increased efficiency, or received recognition? Quantify reach and impact.
Teamwork: How have you built relationships, collaborated across groups, supported colleagues, or led change initiatives? Share examples of aligning teams.
Customer Service: What experiences showcase your ability to deeply understand customer needs, resolve complex complaints, or provide excellent service? Outline your approach.
Preparing Examples and Stories
When getting ready for the behavioural job interview process in Canada, prepare at least one example story for 5–10 frequent prompts like handling mistakes, overcoming obstacles, resolving disagreements, managing multiple priorities, and demonstrating leadership, creativity, or initiative under pressure.
Stories should have enough backstory and context to be meaningful while also being concise and direct. Quantify accomplishments and outcomes whenever possible to showcase a positive impact. Have a whole repertoire of stories handy as a backup for additional behavioural queries.
Delivering Strong Responses
In responding to behavioural questions, resist yes-or-no answers in favour of full anecdotes with rich detail. Yet also avoid excessively long, rambling narratives. Find the right balance of setting the stage sufficiently before getting to the key actions taken and subsequent results.
Use the STAR method as an easy outline:
Situation: the background context and problem that arose;
Task: your responsibility in that particular situation;
Action: the steps you specifically took to address the issue;
Result: the outcomes and impact of your actions. Carefully listen to each behavioural inquiry before formulating an answer. Then, speak slowly, clearly, and confidently as you recap your STAR story.
Getting it Right
Strong behavioural interview responses prove capabilities by directly connecting recruiting requirements to actual lived experiences. So, perform diligent research beforehand on the required competencies for the open position. Then, hone stories that sincerely reveal first-hand mastery of those capabilities, citing tough decisions made, approaches taken, and leadership displayed during pivotal past moments rather than hypotheticals on intended future conduct.
Showcase the adaptability, critical thinking, communication skills, and other soft skills sought after. With practice and preparation, behavioural interview questions can become an opportunity to match credentials and accomplishments to role needs compellingly.