Interview Tips: Behaviours - Behave Yourself

Job or Promotion interviews are all about establishing your suitability to undertake the advertised role i.e. have you got the right levels of skills, knowledge and experience to give the interviewer confidence that you can be successful in the new job.

However, interview situations are also a really crucial shop window for you to demonstrate the many varied aspects of your behaviours that might just stand you apart from other candidates, who might be equally as professionally qualified for the role as you.

Paying conscious attention to, and being in control of all your behaviours during an interview process, might be the aspect that makes all the difference in you securing the targeted role ahead of other candidates.

So what do we mean by behaviours and how do you ensure that you take control of your behaviours so that you create the most positive impact on the interviewer?

A simple, uncluttered definition of behaviour is “everything we say and everything we do” – including what we don’t do and say when we should reasonably be expected to act.  

Behaviour includes the words we use, our tone and voice pace, the actions we take and the myriad of body language signals we send out in the way we interact and communicate with others e.g. gestures, facial expressions, body posture and movement, use of eyes, hand movements etc.  Our behaviours in the present are a direct result of all our past life experiences and circumstances (good and not so good) that have helped shape us to become the unique individual that we are.

Whilst we cannot change the elements in our past that have shaped the way we normally behave in the present, with conscious thought and effort we can chose to modify and adapt our behaviours in any given situation to ensure we are demonstrating the most positive array of behaviours for others to see.

However managing our behaviours is not without its challenges:

  • Many of our behaviours are subconscious and instinctive patterns of habitual responses to given situations: this is fine if these patterned behavioural habits produce a consistently positive reaction from others. However, if these sub-conscious behaviours produce a negative reaction, we may be creating an unhelpful perception without realising it.
  • To change or eliminate unhelpful behaviours may be very difficult as they are often deeply engrained in us; also our motivation to change the way we present ourselves may be overly influenced by the fact that because these behaviours have worked positively for us in the past, they will always do so in the future
  • We can only hope to consciously adapt our behaviours if we have a strong sense of self-awareness about how our behavioural preferences impact upon others (either positively or negatively).  Such self-awareness in turn depends fundamentally upon us having received a diet of regular, honest feedback.

From the moment you engage with an interviewer, you are demonstrating your personal behaviours in every detail of your interaction with her/him, and so gradually influencing the interviewers’ perception of you as a person.  In many interview situations you will be meeting your interviewer for the first time and the length of your interaction may only be relatively short.  

So there is a particular importance in ensuring your positive, engaging behaviours come to the fore as you may not have much subsequent opportunity to change any initial negative perceptions.  If your interview process includes assessed activities and/or presentations then even more of your behaviours will be on display and under more intense scrutiny, so doubly important that you are consciously deploying behaviours that will show you in a positive way.

A note of caution here. The challenge is not to artificially role-play an interview using a set of behaviours that are alien to you.  A good interviewer will see straight through the artificiality of this.  Instead the challenge is to be as natural as you can in the way you are and the way you behave during the interview process, but be very conscious of maximising the behaviours that are likely to create a positive and favourable picture of you, whilst playing down/limiting the types of behaviours that might be less favourably perceived.  In coaching candidates, I often describe this as like having a series of “behavioural volume buttons” in your mind and consciously turning up those buttons that showcase your most positive behaviours and turning down those buttons that might create negative perceptions.

By way of example, if your natural disposition is to talk very quickly and in long sentences then, without losing some of the positive value and energy that comes from being articulate, you may need to consciously dial down and regulate this aspect of your behaviour, so that it doesn't become irritating and/ or overwhelming for the interviewer.

So how do I take charge of my behavioural outputs in job interviews so that I am creating the most positive impression?  

Well there are some simple rules to follow:

  • Feedback – if you are someone who has encouraged/sought-out regular feedback on how you come across to others, then you will probably be aware of some of the important behaviours you might need to work on and adapt in an interview context.  However, even if you are generally very self–aware, we would always strongly advise that in preparation for your upcoming interview, you work with someone to actively role-play/simulate the interview and invite them then to give you clear feedback on all aspects of your behaviours.  At Brosna we always insist that individuals preparing for interviews are videoed participating in an “as-for-real” interview, undertaking their own self analysis from the playback, and receiving honest and objective feedback from the Brosna Consultant
  • Focus – concentrate on the handful of your behaviours that are most likely to make a difference in an interview situation; if you try and consciously adapt too many different types of behaviours simultaneously under the pressure of the interview situation, you may get lost or confused. Be guided by the feedback you receive (see above) on where to focus your attention and simply ask yourself… which of my natural behaviours do I most want to amplify? and which behavioural traits do I want to downplay or eradicate completely? Also be guided by any information you have from the recruiting organisation about the type of behaviours they are looking for, and make sure you demonstrate these aspects of yourself to the interviewer
  • Practice – as with all aspects of the interview, lots of practical practice will help you feel comfortable and confident in leading with your most positive engaging behaviours during the real interview situation.

As a final note it is worth remembering some important principles:

  • We cannot change the things in the past that have shaped our behaviours, but by being more conscious and self-aware we can choose to change the behaviours we demonstrate in the future.
  • Individuals who exercise the most choice and flexibility about the positive behaviours they deploy in any given situation will typically have the most impact and influence.
  • Our behaviours (everything we say and everything we do) are the very visible tools that will indicate to others how effective we are likely to be; our behaviours, as a combined collective, are the means by which we demonstrate our attitudes, values, creativity and respect for others.

In future blogs, we will explore in more detail some critical aspects of behaviour e.g. the importance of non-verbal behaviours (a.k.a. body language), how voice pace and tone can positively impact the effectiveness of your communications and how we can be more conscious about our choice of words and language.

If you need more immediate help, get in touch with us at 

Brosna Career Consulting