How To Crack Every Behavioural Interview in 3 Steps

A well-lit room with three experienced professionals staring at me with wide-opened eyes.

It was the summer of 2017 when I had my very first behavioural interview. I was a naive teen, counting the seconds until the interview ended.

The interviewers were kind enough not to laugh at my terrible responses. However, I started believing that my communication skills suck and I can never nail a situational interview.

Fast forward to 2023, I successfully cleared 4 behavioural interviews at companies with different work cultures, all without even an hour of preparation.

Was it a coincidence? Not at all. 

I learned the trick to acing every interview and it took me a good 7 years of self-exploration! 

However, you don’t need to undergo the same challenges. In fact, with less than 2 hours of preparation, you can excel in your upcoming interview by following the steps outlined below.

What is a Behavioral Interview?

An interview that companies conduct to assess an applicant’s alignment with job requirements and company culture is known as a behavioural interview. 

Your mindset, work ethic, and ability to handle different situations are a few things interviewers seek to evaluate during a behavioural interview. 

What is Behavioral-Based Interview? is a detailed explanation of what a behavioral interview is.

Steps to Crack Behavioral Interview 

You might have already gone through the ocean of behavioural interview questions and answers on the internet. If not, you can start from 50+ Top Interview Questions and Answers which is my personal favourite. 

Also, an optimized LinkedIn profile works wonders in landing new opportunities in the DMs.

This blog post guides you on succeeding in any behavioural interview, regardless of the questions asked. 

1. Know yourself 

Though you’ll need to go through this step only once, it holds the greatest significance. And knowing yourself goes beyond what you do at work and your educational background. 

I was under the delusion that I knew myself until I had a super friendly interview where my replies, meant to be amusing, made the interviewer laugh. My replies about myself made them believe I had the mind of a child (really), even though I knew who I was and what I did.

But, how do you truly know yourself then? 

You do that by following the four tips I mention below:

Know your work

Knowing your work is the easiest of all. You already know what you do and what skills you master. However, you’ll need to know the depth of your work as well. 

For example, what aspect of your work are you most excited about? What areas of work are you interested in? Why did you pursue this career?

If you’re a career switcher, you’ll have to fully understand why you transitioned into a new career. Stories like I loved playing with computers since childhood are cliche, think about a more realistic reason you decided to pursue a new career. 

For example, I have a degree in engineering and I was being interviewed for the role of content marketer. The interviewer asked why my educational background and career aspirations were unaligned. I replied, “I was working as a content writer and storyteller even when I was studying and after working in an engineering role I realised content marketing was more fulfilling for me”. 

My reply emphasized that I had an understanding of what content marketing is despite having a different educational background. My resume proved the truth and the interviewer appreciated my willingness to explore different careers.

Know your qualities

There’s something you’re really good at even if you don’t realise it. Knowing that one thing that you always do better than others offers you a competitive advantage. 

For example, I am good at brainstorming ideas and my childhood friend at making new friends. My brother remembers numeric figures well and my father is good at anticipating the future. 

There are things that we learn over time and sometimes adopt from our interests. For example, maybe I developed the ability to quickly come up with new ideas through years of writing stories. 

Whatever it is, it helps you stand out from the crowd and you can easily relate your qualities with your job role in any interview. I’ve always bragged about my brainstorming skills in every interview I had and presented real examples. You too should speak about your strengths. 

Know your values

Your values define what you do in your life. Every decision you make is directed by your values. However, a lot of people don’t identify their values even though their actions speak about their personal values. 

Oftentimes, companies asses candidate values through an online assessment before the interview. And, if your assessment and interview responses don’t match, they won’t hesitate to turn you down. 

If you too struggle to identify your values Personal Values: How to Know Who You Really Are will help you do that. Written by Mark Manson, the author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving F*ck, this article is an in-depth guide to truly know yourself.

Know your interests

These are the things you find yourself doing in your leisure time. Maybe you like watching space videos on YouTube, spending time with pets or drawing digital portraits. Whatever it is, keep that in mind and how it strengthens your portfolio for your desired role. 

For example, my friend liked interacting with Instagram influencers and staying updated with trends. She took it as an opportunity to brag about her social media monitoring and trend awareness and landed the role of Marketing Executive.

But is all this necessary?

I spent a year and a half forcing myself into a job role that didn’t align with my interests. The result? People soon started believing I was a rude human, even though I was just struggling inside. Knowing yourself opens the doors to a more contented life.

2. Company research

Before entering the interview room, it’s crucial to understand the heartbeat of the company you’re aiming to join. A company where everyone takes part in witty conversation wouldn’t like to hire a nerd. However, there still are companies who want to hire human robots. And if you want to be a robot, you’ll need to tailor your responses according to their culture. Here’s how to uncover the nuances of a company’s culture:

Company website

Start with the official website. Pay attention to the ‘About Us’ section, mission statements, and any values or principles they emphasize. Look for client testimonials and employee programs, you’ll get the gist of their ethic right there.

Social Media Exploration

Check all social media platforms the company uses. Pay attention to what they post there. Do they share behind-the-scenes, party moments, and memes or just promotional stuff? This reveals the company culture and how they treat their employees.

Employee Profiles

Find the current employees on LinkedIn. Take note of what they post on LinkedIn and how they interact with their colleagues. Also, have a look at job descriptions and recommendations. This can offer insights into what skills and personalities the company values. 

Don’t forget to check how long they’ve been working with the company and the promotions they’ve taken. This will give you a sense of growth culture at the company.

Glassdoor Reviews

Glassdoor reviews are sometimes haunting but they do give an overall idea about the company. Reviews might be subjective but you can uncover important details like work-life balance and career growth there. 

All this research is to make sure you know the company beforehand and your responses resonate with them during the interview. You might even find yourself not wanting to work for the company after you do the research (I’ve been there) and that’s okay.  

3. Tailor your responses

Talk in terms of the other person’s interests is my favourite principle of making people to like you from Dale Carneige’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. This has always helped me get an appreciation during conversations. Therefore, taking some time to tailor your responses according to your company’s research is worth it. 

If the company has a formal culture, tailor your responses in a formal tone. However, if the company has a casual work environment, use the same delivery style. 

I have been interviewed for a company twice. The company prioritizes casualty and fun during work hours. They believe a relaxed mindset and a jolly personality lead to great ideas. 

During my first attempt, I appeared formally and only smiled when necessary. The interviewer asked me questions like “If you were a bird what’d you be doing?” and I was clueless because I wasn’t prepared. However, I smiled more the second time. I took all the questions lightly and aligned every response according to their values. And I made it the interview this time.

On the other hand, if you are an overly frank person having an interview with an opposite company, you need to prepare accordingly. For example, Company X gauges candidates based on how formal they appear and how their tone changes when they’re bombarded with multiple questions. You need to prepare answers that showcase your expertise, grace, and maturity to impress them.

What now? 

After you’re done with the above steps, you just need to open your favourite list of behavioural question answers and rehearse your responses. The goal here isn’t to memorize the responses in advance but to gain an understanding of what you’re going to say in advance.

For example, you’ve already identified your qualities above. Now you just need to relate them to your desired job and company. 

Suppose you’re good at finding alternatives when something doesn’t work as expected and you’ve applied for the role of Business Development Manager.

You could say “I can quickly spot new opportunities of doing the same thing. This helps me save businesses thousands of dollars by identifying strategies that don’t work out at an early stage. For instance, in my previous role as a Business Executive, I spotted that XYZ marketing campaign wasn’t leading to the desired output. My responsibility was to devise an effective strategy to improve the campaign’s performance. Therefore, I quickly shifted my focus to the ABC technique and launched a new campaign within the previous budget that proved to be a success.”

If you noticed, I used a STAR technique to craft the above response which is the recommended framework to answer behavioral questions.

Last words

In summary, getting to know you and who you’re talking to makes the difference. Self-awareness not only boosts your confidence during interviews but is also a long journey toward a better life. 

Do you have a pro tip regarding behavioural interviews that I missed? Help me out by commenting below or let me know what you think about this post.

Interested in becoming internet friends? You can always shoot me a message on LinkedIn or Instagram.

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