How To Prepare For Any Behavioural Interview Question

A lot of you are probably preparing for interviews now or in the near future. I just wanted to share my technique on how to prepare for behavioural (behavioral) interview questions. If you memorize a story for each of the 12 values listed in the video (using the SAO or STAR method) it doesn’t matter what the question is. You will be ready to answer it. I hope this helps some of you ace your interview. Best of luck!


01 | How I Used to Prepare:

I would start by doing a lot of practice questions and hope that the questions I prepared for were asked during the interview. I would also read about the company on their website, and memorize some information. This is how I used to prepare, and how many students still prepare. It’s not a bad method. Sometimes the interviewer does ask the questions we prepared for and the interview is a success. Other times, the interviewer will ask questions we weren’t prepared for and then we end up with nothing to say. This method is really hit or miss. The worst feeling is when hours of practice for an interview just go to waste.  

02 | What I Learned

About a year ago, when I was preparing for interviews, my friend sent me this document with a bunch of values written on it. I believe they are from a book called “Get The Interview Edge” by Kim Chung and Elisa Hui. I haven’t actually read that book but I just wanted to provide them with some credit. If you want to check out this book, here's a non-affiliate link.

On the list my friend sent me, there was a list of 12 values that employers look for in a good employee. These values are as follows:

  1. Leadership
  2. Adaptability/Flexibility
  3. Risk Taking
  4. Teamwork
  5. Time Management
  6. Analytical Thinking
  7. Creative Thinking
  8. Ethics
  9. Initiative
  10. Communication
  11. Results-Oriented
  12. Learning

The main idea is that most interviewers are testing employees for these 12 over-arching competencies. If you have a story, or points of discussion for each of these competencies you will be golden in an interview.  

03 | Competencies in more Detail

Here are some ideas of what interviewers are looking for within each specific competency. 

For Leadership:

  • So, a leader is someone people want to follow because that person is willing to lead the way or make some sort of sacrifice for their people. Leaders are people we trust. Employers are looking for a time where you stepped up to the plate and lead the way for others. This can be as simple as being a motivator in a group project or it can be something like being the actual leader of a club on campus.

For Adaptability/Flexibility

  • Employers want to see someone who can adapt to change in their environment. They want to see how you reacted, when things didn’t go as planned and how you found an alternative solution. 

For Risk Taking

  • Employers want to see that you take risks that are calculated and that you take them when they are appropriate. 

For Teamwork

  • Employers want to see that you can bring a team together in order to accomplish bigger goals than you could alone. They also want to see how you respond to conflict within the team.

For Time Management

  • Employers want to see how you juggle multiple activities at once and how you respond to a busy schedule

For Analytical Thinking

  • Employers want to see how you analyze all the different aspects of a problem, and how you come to a solution

For Creative Thinking

  • Employers want to hear about a time where you thought outside of the box, did something different, or innovated

For Ethics

  • Employers pretty much want to know if you do the right thing when no one is looking

For Initiative

  • Employers are looking to see if you are self-motivated, and if you are willing to go above and beyond the simple tasks of the role

For Communication

  • Employers want to see if you know how to effectively communicate through both the oral and written mediums

For Results-Oriented

  • Employers want to hear about a time where you focused on ACHIEVING results. For example, you may have worked with a  group instead of alone on a project because you knew the results could be far greater. Or maybe you came in on the weekends and worked without pay in order to polish up a presentation and make it the best that you possible could

For Learning

  • Employers want to see that you are open to receiving feedback and criticism, and learn from your mistakes.

04 | How I Prepare Now

I start by Preparing a story using my past experiences for each of the 12 competencies using the SAO method (situation-action-outcome). You can also use the STAR method (situation-task-action-result) but I prefer SAO. Situation is like the beginning of the story and the setup. Action is what I actually did. And outcome is the result of my action. Then I Memorize some key info about the company from their website.

05 | Conclusion

The reason this technique works so well is because it forces us to learn about who we are and what truly makes us valuable for any workplace. The perfect employee would excel in all 12. This is not some sort of secret technique. When we know ourselves well, we can better explain to other's what makes us so great! This technique also limits the amount of time we have to spend practicing and gives us something to talk about no matter what question the interviewer asks.


How Do You Prepare For Interviews? Let Me Know in The Comments!