Behavioral Interviews

In a Behavioral Interview, the interviewer poses questions to learn how you have behaved, and predict how you might behave, under particular circumstances. These questions allow the interviewer to: gauge your interest and motivation; evaluate your decision making strategies; evaluate your work experience; assess your ability to manage your time and to plan; evaluate your leadership abilities or potential; assess your risk taking and problem solving skills; and determine your self awareness.

Dartmouth Career Services provides in-depth information on what to expect in a behavioral interview and how to prepare: Interviewing Strategies (PDF)

More on Behavioral Interviewing

(Adapted from Colorado School of Mines Career Center “Interview Preparation” Handout)

Many companies use a technique called behavioral interviewing which is premised on the notion that your past performance is the best predictor of your future performance (e.g. what did you do, tell me about a time when...). This technique has been proven to be the most effective way to evaluate a candidate since it is fact, based on past behavior, rather than a subjective judgment by an interviewer based on theoretical answers (what would you do if.). Companies seek what they call STAR answers:


Interviewer: Give me a specific incident in which you had to address a team member problem.

Applicant: Situation/task: During my summer job, I had to provide engineering support for experienced operations personnel, but the plant foreman would not allow Operations to make a change I recommended. Action: I sat down with the foreman and sought her assistance. Result: Once we reviewed my plan and revised it to address her concerns, the plan was implemented. Companies devise their behavioral questions to address your past performance based on common dimensions needed by most employers.

Highest Ranked "Dimensions" Requested by Companies

Think in advance of anecdotes or stories that demonstrate your strengths as exhibited in past behaviors in each dimension. Use the questions below to prepare. Sometimes you may not have an example or behavior which addresses a company's specific question. If that happens, keep cool, smile, and ask if you could comeback to that question or just take a few moments to think about the question. Chances are the interviewer will have several ways of approaching that dimension and will just move on. But don't be surprised if you feel stressed by behavior-based questions; good preparation will help you feel more confident.

Questions You Might be Asked in Behavioral Interviews

(listed by corresponding "dimension" each question is designed to measure)


Practical Learning

Analysis/Problem Assessment

Judgment/Problem Solving



Planning and Organizing/Work Management

Technical/Professional Knowledge

Motivational Fit