Behavioural Event Interviewing: What is it and how can you ace it?


Keywords: interview tips, interview topics, interview questions, interview assessment


 

“Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared.”

― Idowu Koyenikan

Today companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google have begun using behavioural interviewing, to assess their candidates’ future performance based on their past behaviour. This seems to be a no-brainer when it is said that behavioural interviews are around 40% more predictive of future, on the job behaviour than normal interviews (Hansen, K. 2010). To understand how you can ace a behavioural interview, here is a rundown of all you need to know when it comes to behavioural event interviewing.


What is BEI?

Behavioural event interviews (BEI) focus on the candidate’s past experience by asking candidates to provide specific examples of how they have demonstrated certain

behaviours, knowledge, skills and abilities (“A Guide to Conducting Behavioural Interviews with Early Career Job Candidates,” 2016). Companies use a structured interview method when it comes to BEI, therefore the assessment would be objective and your responses would be rated on a predetermined scale.

Companies generally conduct BEIs keeping in mind the requirements of the job; these are termed as competencies. Your competencies are specific behaviours that should align with the organization’s goals.

For example, one of the key behaviours a recruiter at Facebook looks for in a candidate is the ability to move fast. They believe that opportunities are lost when people move too slow and they’re more afraid of losing certain opportunities than making mistakes. These behaviours (or competencies), help recruiters understand if you’d be a good fit for their organization. Employers such as Accenture look for candidates who are professional, have self-confidence, are critical thinkers and have a willingness to learn (K. Hansen, 2010). Each organization prioritizes their core values differently and it’s crucial to familiarise yourself with them.


Where did they originate from?

The behavioural event interview has been based on the Critical Incident Techniques (CIT) developed by John Clemans Flanagan (1906-1996). This technique focused on critical incidents, crises, turning points or significant instances in activities, wherein the interviewee participated. The core difference between them is that CIT was used when an event had to be recalled, while BEI is used when the candidates' behaviours are of pertinence (M. Dias, R. Aylmer 2019).


What do interviewers aim to learn about you from these interviews? What type of questions can you expect in a behavioural event interview?


There are a few common topics on which interviewers ask questions to better understand how you’d fit into their organisation:

  • Motivation and values

  • Time management

  • Conflict resolution

  • Adaptability

  • Overcoming challenges

  • Teamwork

  • Communication


To answer questions based on these topics, you would need to draw from real-life experiences and situations. The interviewer is looking for an answer that is specific and concise, keep your answer to about three minutes. The main aim of these questions is to understand your thought process along with the skills and strategies you’d use to solve problems.


What approach should you take to answer these questions?

In a behavioural event interview, it is not only crucial for your content to be excellent, but so is the structure. A common and easy to follow structure is the STAR technique. This is a four-step technique wherein you:


(S) Describe the situation: this would include the context of the incident - including when and where it took place.

(T) Describe the task: this could be the problem you were faced with.

(A) Describe the action: here you would elucidate the course of action you took to solve the problem. Ensure that you keep the focus on yourself and how your thought process worked.

(R) Describe the results: finally, you would go on to explain how the action you took paid off. You can also mention what you learnt from the experience.


A few examples of questions you could get are:

Q1. Tell me about a time when an employee approached you with concerns. How did you handle the situation?

Q2. Describe a time when you needed to work as part of a team on a project or initiative. What was your role on the team and what actions did you take to contribute to the team in that role?

Q3. Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.

Q4. Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.

Q5. Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead in a group setting.





A few tips to keep in mind while giving the interview

  • Ensure you are well versed in the organization’s policies and culture

  • Figure out what type of people the company tends to hire

  • Keep calm during the interview and answer using the STAR format so the interviewer can follow along easily

  • While answering the questions, don’t only focus on one part of your career or academic life, try to pick from different phases. Although keep in mind how far back certain organizations expect you to answer from, for example, Accenture expects candidates to answer with events pertaining to the last year.

  • Look into more BEI questions and try to map out what you might roughly answer for the main subtopics.

  • And finally, you can even do a few mock interviews to help get your confidence up!


To conclude, your first step to ace a behavioural event interview would be to research the organization you’re applying to. After understanding what your potential employer expects, you’d be able to plan the areas from your life to draw examples from easily.


 

About the Author:



Hey there, I'm Tanvi!

A third-year Psychology student from Fergusson College, Pune, I've had a keen interest in all things psychology right from my school days. I aim to further take up Organisational or Clinical Psychology in the future. In my free time, you'd find me reading, baking, or walking my dog!





 

References:

35 Behavioral interview questions to prepare for (with example answers). Indeed Career Guide. (2021). Retrieved September 16, 2021, from https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/most-common-behavioral-interview-questions-and-answers.


Dias, M., & Aylmer, R. (2019). BEHAVIORAL EVENT INTERVIEW: SOUND METHOD FOR IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS. ResearchGate. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.18327.62881


Doyle, A. (2021). Tips for giving the best answers to behavioral interview questions. The Balance Careers. Retrieved September 17, 2021, from https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-answer-behavioral-interview-questions-2059622.


Hansen, K. (2010). Behavioral job interviewing strategies for job-seekers. Quintessential Careers.

Indeed Editorial Team. (n.d.). How to prepare for a behavioral interview. Indeed Career Guide. Retrieved September 18, 2021, from https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/how-to-prepare-for-a-behavioral-interview.

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