Behavior Based Interviews

Behavior based interviews. Does this sound familiar?

The basic premise of behavior based interviews, is to discover how an individual, lets call this individual Nurse M. Cyrus, acted in specific employment-related, school-related situations. The logic behind this idea is to see how you behaved in the past because that will signify how you will act and perform in the future. As an interviewer I am looking at trends, I want to know if Nurse M. Cyrus as an individual, is worth the organization’s time and money and would Nurse M. Cyrus be worth the investment. Sounds cruel? No not really, right now the job market for new graduate nurses is the toughest it’s been for a while. I have worked at major metropolis hospitals- you need to take prepping for an interview seriously. Because, everyone one that is applying for a position I’m sure is a team player, good listener, get’s along with others etc. etc. etc. Big major hospitals have the choice to pick and choose the cream of the crop. Why? Allow me to give you to examples at 2 organizations I assisted with the hiring process.

1) Large Children’s Hospital can have 20 to possibly 30 open positions for their new graduate program. You are probably thinking, 40 slots I can live with that. Not when you have over 600 applicants in addition to yours. Get it? Your odds are 30:600, now does 30 still sound appealing?

2) Large Children’s Hospital # 2 has 23 open positions for new graduate nurses. They get over 700 applicants.

The kicker here is this. After you graduate nursing, let’s say your life long dream is to work on the pediatric cardiac ICU. Since you were little you wanted to be a nurse, and your mom is a nurse and your aunt is a nurse. And everyone you know is a nurse. And after your diaper years you had your little heat latched on to pediatric cardiac nursing. So now you are a fresh RN fledgeling straight after nursing school. And you have your heart set on Hospital #2. You should be fine there are 23 open positions. No. That unit alone may ONLY have 4 positions available. Ok so now your odds are 4:700 chance. So this is the time to bring your best foot forward. Not so much Miley’s best foot forward.

This is reality. The difficult thing is, and by no means am I trying to discourage you, it’s a tough job market than it was 10 years ago. I want you to know what you are up against. I need you to seriously take prepping for an interview seriously. So now that my introduction has captured your attention, let’s discuss behavioral based interviews.


  • Tell me about a time that you had to do multiple things at once. What was it,  what did you do, and how did it turn out?
  • Tell me about a time that you handled a difficult situation. What was the situation, what did you do, and how did it turn out.
  •  Tell me a time in which you had to not finish a task because of a lack of information.  How did you handle it? How did it turn out?
  •   Everyone has to bend or break rules sometimes. Tell me about a time that you had to do this. What was the situation. How did you handle it? And what was the end result?
  • Additional samples

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.10.31 PMBehavioral based interviewers are looking at what you have done, not what you would do in this situation. Again, we are looking at what have you done in the past at previous places of employment. If you have a small list of previous employers, give me a situation from nursing school. I cannot tell you enough how many individuals Many of these interviewers, like myself, want a real life story from you. In addition to your story I am looking for a beginning, middle and ending to your story.  This is where I feel throws people off. Is it just nerves probably.

But many answers to my questions have been “well this is what I would do if I was in this situation”.  What’s wrong with that reply? You are telling me this is what you “would” do. For behavioral based questions this is your first mistake,  unless you are able to quickly change your end game, then you are heading into a downward spiral. For prepping, look over sample questions.

Behavioral based interviews can be tough. But manageable and attainable.

Peals of Wisdom

Prep. Dress for success. Listen to what the interviewer is saying and asking. Good luck!

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P.S. If you have any  questions feel free to comment, or topics you would like me to blurb about feel free to let me know! Thanks!


6 thoughts on “Behavior Based Interviews

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