Total Talent Management

Behavioral/Competency-based interviewing

Behavioral or competency-based (terms often used interchangeably) interviews are based on the premise that past performance is the best predictor of future performance. The questions in a behavioral or competency-based interview are designed to reveal the extent to which the candidate exhibits the knowledge, skills, abilities, or characteristics of the desired behavior/competency.

Competencies are a collective of specific knowledge, skills, abilities, and characteristics learned and developed over time or through specific experiences. Competencies are not just about what a candidate knows, but how candidates apply what they know to meet the job expectations.

Identifying and defining the specific competencies needed to perform the essential duties in each position will help set clear expectations for the role, provide flexibility as needs and technology evolves, and provide a foundation for equitably assessing whether or not a candidate is the best fit for the role.


Effective use of this technique will increase the likelihood that the candidate selected will possess both the skill set and values essential to the success of your team. Consider using the interviewing tools below in conjunction with other technical questions you may use or develop your own behavioral or competency-based interviews by first identifying and defining the essential competencies or behaviors required to be successful in the role prior to developing interview questions.

Then develop the interview questions, which should correlate with specific behaviors or competencies.

Interviewing tools

The tools below provide interview questions for behaviors or competencies typically associated with specific job families. To find an applicable interview tool, identify the most appropriate job family for the job you are recruiting for and then download the corresponding interview tool.

For assistance in understanding the use of these tools and in customizing them for your position, contact your employment representative. When asking behavioral/competency based questions, candidates should provide complete answers, not generalized answers. The interviewer should strive to obtain a STAR (Situation or Task, the candidate’s Actions, and the Result of those actions), or an EAR (Example, the candidate’s Actions, and the Results). The Planning and Conducting Candidate Interviews (MS Word) guidance document provides more information on the EAR approach to interviewing, as well as guidance on identifying competencies and questions and developing a scoring matrix.

Note: Behavior or competency-based interviews often requires the candidate to “Think about an example” or provide “specific details and steps”. Let the candidate know that taking a minute or two is okay.