Q. A friend got me an interview with this company I really want to work for. My friend told me to expect behavioral interview questions. What does that mean, and what should I expect/do?

A. In a behavioral interview, the interviewer will ask you to remember or describe a time when something was required of you. They will want to know about the incident and how you responded. This allows them to gauge how you might respond in the future when presented with similar circumstances.

For instance, an employer might ask you to give an example of a time in which you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision. If in answering you don't provide enough detail to allow them to gauge what you do when decisiveness is required, they might follow up with further questions to determine what you did or how you handled that situation.

The basic premise of the behavioral interview is that past performance is a good predictor of future performance. Employers use the behavioral interview technique to evaluate an interviewee’s experiences and behaviors. This allows them to determine the applicant’s potential for success. As an interviewee, behavioral interviews give you the most opportunity to show prospective employers why you are well suited for the job.

You can demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and abilities, collectively known as competencies, by giving specific examples from your past experiences. It’s difficult to prepare for a behavior-based interview because of the huge number and variety of possible behavioral questions you might be asked. However, most job descriptions and requirements can give you a clearer idea of what competencies the interviewer might look for.

You can get more information including a list of potential behavioral interview questions in our free Core to Success booklet.