In today's competitive job market, hiring organizations are spending a great amount of time, resources and money to ensure that the screening, interviewing and selection processes deliver high-quality candidates that will produce desired results for the organization.

Research has shown that job performance, job satisfaction and retention increase significantly if an organization hires the "right fit" for the organization.

Targeted selection is a behavioral-based interviewing process, which provides hiring employers with specific data that allows them to predict future behavior on the job. Employers want to collect information on the knowledge, motivations and behaviors needed to do a job successfully, and they will determine if you are the "right fit" based upon your previous experiences. In other words, what you have done in the past, is a predictor of what you will do in the future and how you will perform on the job.

Most often, behavioral-type questions are included in the interview process. This requires preparation and practice in advance of the interview. In addition, many companies are screening candidates through a first initial phone interview.  

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Many employers are trying to rate particular competencies in a candidate:       

Communication- Oral & Written

Team Orientation

Leadership Skills

Project Management Skills

Problem Solving Ability  

Business Insight

Technical Skills   

Customer Service Skills

Professional Growth


The STAR Response

When a recruiter gathers examples of behavior in an interview, he/she wants to get the "real story." An easy way to give the recruiter the "real story" is to use the acronym STAR to describe a complete behavioral example. Responses to the questions should be framed with the STAR model in mind.

Elements of a STAR

    • Describe a situation...
    • What were the circumstances surrounding...?
    • What was the most memorable time when that happened...?
    • What did you do ...?
    • What exactly did you do in the situation...?
    • What was your specific role or what steps did you take in the situation...?
    • What were the results...?
    • How did it work out...?
    • What problems/successes resulted from...?
    • What feedback did you receive...?
    • What lesson(s) did you learn...?

Top 10 Behavioral Interviewing Questions

Tell me about a time when you....

  1. Planned a project from beginning to end.
  2. Resolved a conflict with a coworker or team member.
  3. Persuaded others to do something.
  4. Worked on a team project that didn't work out as you  planned.
  5. Your ethics or morals were challenged.
  6. Experienced disappointment - what did you learn?
  7. Were unable to complete a project on time.
  8. Used data to prove a point.
  9. Dealt with a team member that wasn't pulling his/her weight.
  10. Developed the trust of your fellow team members.

Write a response to any of the previous questions based on the STAR model. Practice answering the questions with a friend, family member, professor or career professional.


What has been your proudest accomplishment?

Situation/Task: When I was a junior in college, I was having difficulty with calculus.  On my first test, four weeks into the class, I received a C- on the test, and I was really discouraged. This was the first time that I had received a C on any test.  I knew that I had to do something differently, because I knew that the class was going to continue to be tough.

Action: I had always heard that tutoring was available to the students, but I had never taken advantage of the assistance.  One day after class I asked my professor if she could give me some information about how to acquire the assistance of a tutor.  I went on to tell her that I was struggling with the class, and wanted to strive for at least a B average.  As luck would have it, she told me that she would be my tutor.  We started meeting that week for two hours a week.

Result:  Beyond the two hours that I spent with my professor, I also carved out an additional three hours to study on my own.  This really helped me.  On the next test, I received a B+, and on the final exam I received an A.  For the final grade, I received a B+.

Describe a project in which a team/group member wasn't "pulling thier weight"?

Situation/Task:  Last year in my Merchandising class, I was paired with two other classmates and instructed to present a report on the marketing strategies of a large consumer goods company.  Shortly after starting the project, one member decided not to show up to our planning meetings.

Action:  I thought that it was important that they understand the role they play and how it affects our overall group project and grade.  I contacted the team member to discuss what was preventing them from participating in our group.  At which time, the team member revealed they were overwhelmed with other classes and indicated they would make a strong effort to contribute in future meetings.

Result: After our conversation the team member did show up to our next meeting and offered two companies to explore and suggested some resources that could be used.  We ended up putting together a great presentation and received a good grade on the assignment.