5 steps to bulletproof behavioural interview prep

Behavioural questions are often very difficult. Yet with a little preparation anyone can nail them with ease.

After a lot of failures I’ve created a method that allows me to nail those behavioural questions. Behavioural questions often look a little like this:
  • “Identify and explain a time when you utilised leadership?”
  • “Identify and explain a time when you had to manage a conflict?”
  • “Describe a complex problem to me”
Behavioural questions can seem impossible to prepare for. It seems impossible to remember enough scenarios to cover it all. Especially, like me, you struggle with thinking on your feet. But that’s where good preparation comes in.

Behavioural Interview Prep Strategy

This strategy involves identifying past stories, finding your role in them. Before finally reframing them to fit different skills you might want to showcase.
  1. Make a list of attributes (~10-30) – The skills required of you. This could be leadership, problem solving, conflict resolution or handling stress. You won’t know all the attributes but you do know some of them. You should end up with a list of around 10 to 30 attributes.
  2. Make a list of ~10 situations – Now make a list of some situations that you have faced in the past. If you’ve no work experience, lean on your other experiences or hobbies. For instance this could be a time where a project went wrong. The important part is to pick vivid stories. Ones with the best characters or plots. At this stage, don’t hold back – jot down around 10 situations that you can think of.
  3. Choose the best 3 situations – This is the bit where we start to refine. Choose 3 of these situations. These are going to be the biggest and most memorable stories. The ones with the biggest plots, biggest characters. And also the stories where you did something remarkable! Also, choosing only 3 makes it easier to remember.
  4. Identify key attributes in each story – When you’ve got your top 3 situations draw arrows from each. Identify the key attributes you demonstrated in that situation. Or also the attributes of the story itself: “High pressure”, “Leadership”, “Conflict”.
  5. Practice – Practice telling each story out loud from the angle of each attribute. For instance: Imagine you’re asked to showcase leadership. Then, tell the story (out loud!) from the angle of leadership. For extra brownie points setup a camera and give yourself only 1 shot of explaining each story.
That’s it. Once you’ve performed the steps, don’t forget to keep them for future use!

What interview strategies have you employed previously for your interviews?

Lou Bichard