Behaviorally Anchored Interviews

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Is a form of structured interview. Structured interviews are beneficial because they standardize interviews across all candidates and allow for easier comparison across them. These interviews are also legally defensible because they are tied to job requirements and organizational goals.

Behavioral interviews focus on past experiences of the candidates and tries to access past examples of how these candidates demonstrated certain competencies, skills, behaviors, knowledge and abilities in the past. Competencies assessed during behavioral interviews are determined by clustering knowledge, skills, abilities, other characteristics (KSAOs) needed for successful performance in a job and characteristics needed for the organization to achieve its overarching strategic goals. High performance on these selected competencies are associated with better job performance.

The underlying assumption is that if candidates dealt with such a situation in the past, they are likely to do so in the future as well. Therefore, candidates must aim to clearly demonstrate their competencies by providing detailed examples of their experiences, what they did, what the outcomes were, and what they learnt/ gained after the experience. Using a STAR format (delineating the situation, explaining what the task was, what action did you take, and what were the results) would be suitable to ensure that you provide a complete answer.


To best prepare, think broadly about the competencies employers may be likely to assess you on. Although there are a variety of competencies that employers can adopt for their interviews, some examples of competencies (and their descriptions) often assessed in behavioral interviews include the following. This is not an exhaustive list but can provide an idea of what employers look for in candidates. Below are also some ideas on how to prepare.

Making Decisions & Initiating Action: Initiates action, gives direction and takes responsibility for decisions and actions. Think about examples of past leadership experiences (either formal or informal) and what specifically you did to direct yourself and others to accomplish a goal.

Supporting & Cooperating: Supports others and shows respect and positive regard for them in social situations. Puts people first, working effectively with individuals and teams, clients, and staff. Behaves consistently with clear personal values that complement those of the organization. Think about examples of times when you worked in a group or had to cooperate with others to achieve a goal.

Presenting & Communicating Information: Communicates effectively by successfully persuading and influencing others. Relates to others in a confident, relaxed manner. Think about times when you had to communicate information to a large group of people or people who held different opinions than yours.

Planning & Organizing: Plans ahead and works in a systematic and organized way. Think of examples about times when you had to manage several responsibilities simultaneously and had to determine a system to help you manage everything.

Adapting to & Coping with Pressure: Adapts to and manages pressure effectively. Think about times when you had to face setbacks and explain what you did to overcome the problem and move forward.

Achieving Goals & Objectives: Seeks opportunities for self and career development. Focuses on achieving personal and professional work objectives. Think about times when you went above and beyond to achieve a goal or improve yourself.

Sample questions

  1. Describe a decision you made that was unpopular and how you handled implementing it?
  2. Have you had to convince a team to work on a project they weren’t thrilled about? How did you do it?

For other examples of sample questions, see “How to prepare for a behavioral job interview” by The Balance Careers

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