Preparing for Work
Behavioural Interview Questions
ehavioural interview questions are common in many job interviews, meaning it is highly likely that employers will frame their questions in this style. These questions focus on the interviewee providing a real example of something that happened in the past, because past behaviour is a predictor of future behaviour. With these questions, therefore, the point is to share real examples, not hypothetical scenarios.
Questions often focus on the skills and knowledge used, and learned, as they relate to interpersonal relationships and ability to manage difficult situations. Some specific areas of inquiry include stress management, planning, teamwork, problem-solving, leadership, creativity, judgment, decision-making, dealing with ambiguity, and commitment to the task.
There are a few different acronyms that have been used to explain how to answer these types of interview questions, such as:
- STAR (Situation + Task + Action = Result),
- SAR (Situation + Action = Result), and
- PAR (Problem + Action = Result).
Regardless of the acronym, they are all looking for the same things: tell the employer about a situation you experienced, or a problem you had to solve, the action(s) you took, and the result.
Let’s break this down further:
Situation + Action = Result (SAR) Breakdown
Outline the situation, need, or problem and show what skills and knowledge you used.
State the key actions performed; be specific and strive to begin each sentence with a skill word. Show how you applied the skill by using descriptors. Mention how you performed the task, your attitude conveyed, or tools/procedures used.
State the result and quantify the impact it had; whenever possible use percentages or numbers (i.e., data) to demonstrate the significance of your actions. If you cannot quantify the result, try to qualify the result by stating the impact on the organization.
Examples of results valued by employers:
Designed marketing materials to boost sales by 14%.
Streamlined talent and crew transportation process, to maximize efficiency and cut travel expenses at half the cost.
Performed the work previously required of two-full-time employees.
Make Work Easier
Developed templates for standardized items (i.e. shot lists, casting decks) which reduced prep time by 75%.
Solve a Specific Problem
Troubleshot recurring computer crashes for a key customer; traced problem to vendor software, facilitated corrections, and maintained account valued at $70,000 in annual income.
Debuted quarterly newsletter and grew it to a 20-page publication packed with valuable communiqués on legal concerns, industry initiatives, educational updates, and technology advancements.
Be More Competitive
Inherited dissipating client accounts and rebuilt relationships, generating record levels of service requests.
Polled customers to identify preferences for additional services; introduced add-ons that increased average sales by 7%.
Attract New Customers
Sourced new customers through h social media platforms, generating a 12% increase in active client accounts.
Retain Existing Customers
Increased customer-retention figures from 70% to 96%.
You could include instances where you:
1. Solved a problem or handled an emergency situation.
6. Contributed actively to a decision or a change.
2. Created/built something or developed an idea.
7. Increased sales, profits or reduced costs.
3. Demonstrated your leadership in face of challenge.
8. Helped somebody realize his/her objectives.
4. Followed instructions and realized a goal.
9. Saved time and /or money.
5. Identified a need and satisfied it.
10. Received a reward or special commendation.
Here are some examples:
“While working as a Graphic Designer for Rose&Co., I oversaw a team project to create an interactive infographic for a client. We were on a tight deadline; however, the developer would miss meetings and inform the team at the last minute. I brought up the issue with her and explained how it affected the progress of the team. I suggested that she could be responsible for deciding when to meet if the other previous times didn’t work in her favour. As it turned out, the developer had several other projects which left her schedule with very few slots. After our conversation, attendance increased, and we were able to complete the project on time.”
In this example, the situation was that the developer was late and/or absent from team meetings. The action was to confront the developer to identify a solution in which she could be responsible for deciding when to meet. The result was that the infographic was completed on time, and thus, a satisfied customer.
In my current role as a Game Developer for Ubisoft, I had to work on a key project that was scheduled to be released in 60 days. My supervisor came to me and said that we needed to speed it up and be ready in 45 days. I made it into a challenge for myself and my teammates to effectively schedule our time by sharing the workload and breaking our remaining tasks into smaller chunks. Thus, the job was completed in a record time of 42 days, and the release date was a success. Of course, I had a great group of people to work with, but I think that my effective allocation of tasks was a major component that contributed to the success of the project.
In this example, the situation was the reduced deadline from 60 days to 45 days. The action was the effective allocation of tasks. The result, a record-breaking turnaround time, and smooth release date.
In my previous role as a Garment Designer, I once misquoted the fees for a custom dress design. I explained my mistake to my supervisor, who appreciated my coming to him and my honesty. He told me to offer to correct the fee and provide the client with 15% off her next custom design. The client was very happy with the resolution and commissioned our company for three more pieces. Although I had made a mistake, I learned to pay close attention to the details so as to be sure to give accurate information in the future.
In this example, the situation was a lack of attention to detail, resulting in the client being misquoted. The actions taken included explaining the mistake to the supervisor, reimbursing the client and offering an additional discount. The result was a satisfied client, who had returned for additional commissions.