Preparing for Your Behavioral Interview

interview tips Jan 04, 2022

Do you dread preparing for a behavioral interview? It doesn’t have to be so daunting. One simple trick to get started is to focus solely on your actions. This prep will help you be more organized and focused in the actual interview.

Let’s break it down even further in 7 key action items:

Item #1—Identification

Sometimes you don’t know where to get started or how to get started with your behavioral examples. There are a few places you can go for inspiration. Remember that these items can be done in parallel. When anything relevant comes to mind, make a note of it. I recommend having a Google Doc or spreadsheet ready to track all your interview preparation notes.

The goal here is to identify the important aspects of the behavioral interview questions:

  1. The Job Description—Understand the job description to help you hone in on the most relevant examples to share.
  2. Company Research—Researching the company can get you connected to softer skills examples, such as cultural, environmental or collaborative examples.
  3. Practice Questions—Don’t get too focused on the practice questions because your best examples should be the ones you share. Still, it’s important to run through some of the questions you might be asked as you organize your thoughts and prepare relevant responses.

Item #2—Titles

Creating strong titles can be beneficial in multiple ways. First, it attaches the example to your memory so it’s easy to remember what you are talking about. Be somewhat specific with your titles. An example might be “Video Strategy for ABC Corp.” Write these titles down in your prep notes and also put together a cheat sheet you can use for quick reference during the interview.

Item #3—Actions!

The biggest reason many people fail in behavioral interviews is because they aren’t able to display how they contributed to the positive results. Always remember that behavioral questions are trying to determine past performance as a predictor of future performance. I’ve talked about the sandwich analogy in the past (click here to read the full article and watch the full video). Basically, think about two thin slices of bread as the situation and results. Then, the thick middle of your sandwich (the meat, veggies or both) as your actions. The bread holds the sandwich together, but the fillings are what make it delicious! 

Think about high-level actions such as research, chatting with clients/colleagues, planning, execution, testing, presenting, launching and documentation. Work through these steps as you outline your actions in each stage of the process.

Item #4—Screen Share

Check out my full video on this topic below. At 5:44, I provide a detailed screen share example to walk you through the title and outline process for behavioral interview preparation:

This exercise will simply give you a visual representation of what we are discussing in this blog.

Item #5—Edit

Through this process, you will end up with a number of actions associated with your examples. Take a little break and come back to those notes with a critical eye. First, ask yourself if you missed anything. Make sure all the critical high-level action items have been covered. Throw out any questions or examples that you don’t think are strong enough. Focus on the examples and actions that are most relevant and effective.

Item #6—Bolstering

Now that you have identified the best examples and outlined your high-level actions, you will go through each one and create mini actions—the actions that support the larger action you took. This part of the process will take longer, but you have created a great shell to get started.

Item #7—Situation, Task & Results

We’ll round out the S.T.A.R. method by covering the situation, task and results. Please watch my video outlining the S.T.A.R. method (click here) for a full breakdown of this process.

I hope you find this information helpful as you prepare for your behavioral interview. It doesn’t have to be a difficult process. The more you prepare yourself, practice and organize your examples, the better you will do when it’s time for the actual interview.

For more interview tips, follow my YouTube channel, read other blog articles or sign up on Practice Interviews to gain access to additional interview training resources.


Jeff H. Sipe

Jeff has interviewed over 1000 people in his career and previously spent five years working at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley. You likely found Jeff through YouTube and you will find the same level of dedication in his one on one practice interview sessions.

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