The Behavioral Type Interview: Don’t Be Nervous, Be Prepared


Glenn Bass, Director of Recruiting, SI Placement
Bethesda, Maryland

Behavioral type interviews are alive and kicking. If you are in the job market and interviewing for a new fraud-related role, there’s a good chance you will be faced with behavioral type interview questions. The trick is not to be caught like a reindeer in headlights. Don’t be nervous, be prepared. First, let’s get an understanding of the “what” and “why” of behavioral interviews.

Behavioral type interviews will consist of questions that aim to learn about your past behaviors in specific work situations to see if you have the skills and competencies needed for the job. These questions often start with, “tell me about a time,” “describe a time” or “provide me with an example.” The logic behind behavioral interviews is that past behavior is a reliable predictor of future behavior. What you’ve done in the past, will predict what you do in the future. The interviewer will want examples of what happened, what you did and how you achieved a positive outcome.

The logic behind behavioral interviews is that past behavior is a reliable predictor of future behavior.

Below are some skills and competencies followed by behavioral type interview questions a CFE might hear during an interview:

  • Problem-solving capability (most CFE roles require creativity and critical thinking)
    Describe a time when you faced a significant obstacle to succeeding with an important work project, activity or investigation.
  • Acting with integrity (key characteristic for any CFE)
    Describe a time that you demonstrated integrity by maintaining necessary confidentiality. What did you do? What was the result?
  • Demonstrating Emotional Intelligence (CFEs often work in a sensitive work environment)
    Tell us about some demanding and stressful circumstances where others were intense, but you were able to maintain your composure. How did that affect the result?
  • Establishing relationships (A CFE often needs to be able to build both internal and external relationships)
    Describe a situation in which you had to arrive at a compromise or help others to compromise. What was your role? What steps did you take? What was the end result?
  • Inspiring and motivating others (An important skillset for any type of supervisory/management role)
    What is the toughest group or individual you have had to get cooperation from? How did you get them to perform at their best?

When answering behavioral type questions you will want to tell a story that includes a brief overview of the situation, the task you needed to complete, the specific actions you took to complete the task and the result of your efforts.  

There are also some “don’ts” when answering behavioral type questions.

  • Don’t be ambiguous with your responses. The interviewer is looking for you to provide specific situations.
  • Don’t use phrases such as, "Most of the time..." or" Sometimes..."
  • Don’t give your beliefs or opinions. The interviewer wants a factual example of what you did in a certain situation.
  • Don’t use phrases such as, "I believe..." or "In my opinion..."
  • Don’t give examples of what you would have done rather than what you did do.
  • Don’t use phrases such as, "I would have..." or "I might."
  • Don’t include examples that were team related. The interviewer wants to hear about specific actions you took or were accountable for, not those that were team efforts.
  • Don’t use phrases such as, “We did…” or “The team did…” Or “The group did…”

Behavioral interviews can be tricky, but the key to success is preparation. Don’t be nervous, be prepared.

More tips and advice available at our online Career Center.