What is “Behavioral Interviewing”?

In the past decade, more and more employers have switched to something called “behavioral interviews.” But this can be a confusing term. So we broke it down for you here—plain and simple. 

Behavioral interviewing means that an employer is interested in how you acted in specific professional situations. How do you respond when faced with change or a challenge? What happened when you were asked to do something you didn’t know how to do? 

“The reason behind behavioral interviewing is that it is the most accurate predictor of future performance,” explained Dot Foods Sr. Corporate Recruiter Brooke Fosdyck. “It is all based on past performance.” 

 

 

Is behavioral interviewing different from a traditional interview?

The structure of a behavioral interview is the same as a typical interview. You will still meet with someone from HR and a handful of other people who are involved in that particular area of the business. 

When it comes to the questions asked during a behavioral interview, those tend to be different than a traditional interview. 

In a traditional interview, the questions tend to be more straightforward and ask things like “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” or “What do you do on a typical day in your current role?” But, in a behavioral interview, the questions are more focused on a specific list of skills and behaviors that an employer is looking for. The employer has decided ahead of time what skills they are looking for, and they will ask questions to discover if the interviewee has those necessary skills. 

Behavioral interviews help an employer decide if a potential employee has the right skillset. It also helps them determine if the interviewee has the right behaviors and attitudes to fit into the company culture.

How to Prepare for a Behavioral Interview

Do your homework

Look over the job description and get to know the company.

“You are interviewing the company just as much as the company is interviewing you,” explained Sr. Corporate Recruiter Ashley Johnson. “Do your homework… research the company and the position you’re applying for. Questions are always good to show that the candidate is engaged and interested.”  Come prepared to ask questions about the job and the company—asking the right questions will help ensure the company and the position is the right fit for you.

Share your best skills
Think about the strengths you have that you want to highlight during your interview. Thinking about specific strengths ahead of time will help ensure they make their way into your interview.
Share your weaknesses and opportunities to improve
It’s not only important to discuss your strengths, but also where you want to improve. How can the position you’re seeking help you develop your skills? What weaknesses are you looking to work on? How do you plan to address those in your new job? These are all good questions to ask yourself before going into an interview.
Think about your past experiences, challenges, and successes
Take some time to meditate on your past experiences. What was your most significant learning moment? Your largest challenges? Your proudest accomplishments? These are good things to think about and contemplate before going into an interview, so you are prepared to share them with the interview team.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Look up sample questions online of behavioral interviews and practice answering them. Whether you answer them to yourself in the mirror, write out your answers, or practice with a friend or family member—practice makes perfect!

What Questions Will I Have to Answer During a Behavioral Interview?

 

Give me an example of a difficult problem you solved. How did you solve this problem?

  • Tell me about a mistake you have made. How did you handle it?
  • Can you tell me about a challenging situation you overcame at work?
  • Can you tell me about a time you set and achieved a certain goal?

Looking for more practice questions? Doing a simple Google search for “Behavioral Interview Questions” will show you a wide range of questions to rehearse with.

How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions

Use the C.A.R. method

Fosdyck recommends using the C.A.R. method.

“A good method to answering most behavioral interview questions is to follow the C.A.R. approach,” explained Fosdyck. “We want to know what CIRCUMSTANCE you faced, what ACTION you took, and what RESULT was achieved.”

Circumstance

The first part of the C.A.R. method is CIRCUMSTANCE. What challenge or problem did you face? Be sure to explain the situation you were confronted with.

Action

The second part of the C.A.R. method is ACTION. What action did you take to address the challenge or situation? Did you seek out help or do some research? Did you take on the problem alone? What steps did you take to find a solution?

Result

The final part of the C.A.R. method is RESULT. What was the result of your actions? Was the outcome what you expected?

Tips from Dot Recruiters

When going through the behavioral interview process, it is important to keep a few things in mind:

“Vague responses that include generalizations and do not provide a specific situation should be avoided,” said Fosdyck. “Be sure to provide a specific example to answer the question.”

“Try to make the connection from the question we ask, to what we are trying to learn about you through that question,” said Corporate Recruiter Aaron Littig. “For example, if we ask ‘Tell us about a challenging team dynamic you have been involved in,’ we are trying to see how open you are to working with others, and how you may contribute to improving a team.”

Behavioral interviewing can be challenging—but the more you do it, the easier it gets. Be sure to take the time before your interview to ponder your past experiences and how you would benefit the company, and vice versa. Doing the research and rehearsing for the interview are two ways to get closer to nailing the interview and landing your next job!

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