Top Behavioural Questions To Ask In Interviews

Behavioural interviewing is where candidates ask questions and are expected to answer giving examples of how they have acted in specific work based situations in the past. The theory is that past performance is the best indicator of future performance. This is backed by evidence which suggests that behavioural interviews are 55% predictive of the candidate’s future on-the-job behaviour while responses using more traditional techniques are only 10% predictive.

Behaviour based interviewing is becoming increasing popular in today’s work place as employers have begun to realise that it is an extremely powerful way of predicting a candidate’s likely future performance in a role. If you are looking to introduce behavioural questioning into your business, then why not take a look at our behavioural questioning kit below, which offers sample questions and also tells you how to recognise a good response in candidates.

The questions that you ask should be specifically linked to the core competencies of the job description. For example, if the ideal candidate requires communication skills, attention to detail and customer service, then you should choose behavioural questions that assess candidates in these areas.

In this behavioural questioning kit, we have focussed on the most commonly assessed areas.

These questions are good for assessing accuracy attention to detail, crucial in all firms, especially accountancy practices:

Can you describe a time when you found an error that a colleague had overlooked? What was the situation? What did you do? What was the outcome?

Describe the process that you use for evaluating the reliability of financial data that you might receive? Talk in the context of the actual project you have done.

How do you control errors in your work? Explain the process within the context of real tasks that you perform.

Questions to Assess:

Organisational skills

Describe a time when you handled a complicated financial project with a tight deadline which required precise data collection and analysis?

Give an example of a project that you have been involved in which best describes your organisational skills?

Customer Focus

How do you go about building rapport with a customer? How do you gain their confidence? Provide real examples.

Describe a time when you inherited a customer? How did you build rapport with them? What steps did you take to gain their trust?

Interpersonal Skills

Describe a time when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. Why did you find this person difficult? How did you manage the situation? How did the relationship progress?

Tell me about a time when you had to communicate financial data to non-financial people?

Problem Solving

Describe a complex financial analysis problem that you faced on the job recently?

Walk me through your latest budget preparation.

What to look for in answers to behavioural questions.

There is a very simple process to follow when assessing candidates responses to behavioural questions. This is known as Situation – Behaviour – Impact or SBI. This means that a good behavioural answer should be comprised of these three components.

By situation, this means that candidate’s answers should make reference to a credible working situation that they were involved in. Typically, the interviewee should name the employer, client, project and the specific task they were working on or problem that they were facing.

The behaviour element of SBI is the key component of a good quality response to behavioural questioning. The candidate response should clearly show what actions they took to actually manage the situation or resolve the problem. A good response will generally involve the candidate using the term ‘I’ a lot rather than ‘we’. We are looking to see what individual impact the candidate makes, which brings us nicely on to the final point.

The candidate needs to be able to show you that they did more than just ‘act’ in the situation, but that they actually made an ‘impact’. They should be able to demonstrate that their actions had a positive effect on the organisation. Was a customer more satisfied? Did accuracy levels increase? Was work completed faster? The best answers will show how the situation changed or improved as a result of their involvement.