Behavioral Interviewing Techniques to Hire Top Talent

Don’t flip a coin when it comes to hiring.

By using behavioral interviewing techniques to dig into candidate backgrounds you can get the real scoop regarding their experience.
The logic behind behavioral interviewing is that past behaviors will predict future behaviors, and therefore future performance. The goal of a behavioral interview is to probe. As the interviewer, you should ask specific questions to find out how a candidate has handled a situation in past.
Behavioral interview questions generally start with the following phrases:

  • Tell me about a time when…
  • Describe a circumstance in which…
  • Give me an example of…

Behavioral interviewing is used to evaluate specific competencies you have determined as fundamental to success in the position you are hiring for. These are not a generic set of questions that you ask every candidate no matter the position. Rather, they are a set of pre-determined questions developed with a specific requisition and competencies in mind.

Here is a List of Popular Competencies:

  • Accountability
  • Agility
  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Decision Making
  • Efficiency
  • Impact
  • Integrity
  • Listening skills
  • Motivation
  • Motivation to Develop
  • Organization Skills
  • Persistence
  • Team Work
  • Time Management Skills

When developing your own list of behavioral interview questions, first select the core competencies that are important for the opening. This list should be between 4-6 competencies.
Once selected, develop interview questions that pertain to each selected competency. Keep in mind that one question can pertain to multiple competencies. You should ask multiple questions for each competency to ensure consistency. Click here for a quick guide on core competencies and related interview questions.
Below are examples of popular behavioral interview questions for each of the common competencies listed above:

Accountability, Organizational Skills, Decision Making

  • Please describe in detail a project that you were responsible for. How did you carry out the project and what were the end results?


  • Tell me about a time when you had to take on a new role, or new tasks. Describe the situation and what you did.
  • Tell me about a project that did not go according to plan. What corrections did you make and what were the results?


  • Tell me about a time when you had to introduce a new idea. How did you do it?
  • Describe a time when you received information about a project or work related item that was critical to success. How did you share the information with the team? When did you share the information?

Critical Thinking/Decision Making

  • Provide me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  • Tell me about a difficult decision you’ve made in the last year.
  • Describe the steps you go through to make an important decision. Please provide an example.

Efficiency/Organizational Skills

  • What is your process of prioritizing your responsibilities? Provide an example. What should you do to be more efficient?
  • Everyone procrastinated at some point. What are the kinds of things that you procrastinate on?


  • Tell me about a time when you got results when others tried and failed.
  • Tell me about a time when you were the first to take on a tough issue.
  • Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.

What other examples of behavioral interviewing techniques am I missing?

Carlie Smith
Carlie Smith
Director of Talent

Carlie Smith was the Senior Talent Manager, Sales & Marketing at OpenView. She worked directly with hiring managers and key stakeholders within OpenView and its portfolio to lead vital searches and provided process guidance on recruitment strategy, including talent identification, strategic sourcing, relationship building, and competitive intelligence. Currently, Carlie is the Director of Circle.
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