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Behavioral Interview Template

In this post, I share my current template for interviewing other software developers.

If you ask N people how best to interview, you’ll likely get N unique answers. What I did was combine suggested interview strategies and questions from several sources I’ve encountered over the past few years.

The impetus for assembling this template was that the project I’m working on at DPRA required hiring several developers of varying levels (junior to senior). Another factor to consider is that I was one of four interviewers:

  • Project technical lead — focused on the tech skills; considered what area of the project the candidate could help with
  • Project manager — explained the project; fielded questions about it specifically
  • CTO — explained the company background and vision; focused on where the candidate could be long-term at DPRA
  • Me — explored the candidates professional skills; determined if the candidate would be successful here (culture fit)

Feel free to use some of these questions as you interview candidates (or think about how you’d answer it if you’re preparing to be interviewed).


General tips1

  • Review the resume before they arrive
  • Look for patterns of growth in their resume
  • Use behavioral questions: “Tell me about a time when ___ actually happened to you. No generalizations. Take some time to collect your thoughts if needed.” This is also called STAR: Situation/Task, Action taken, Result observed.
  • Pick 3-4 competencies required for the job and have at least one behavioral question for each
  • Ask each candidate the same questions
  • Take notes on this form; do not discard (for legal reasons)
  • Tell the candidate the interview plan so they know what to expect
  • Avoid interviewing across a desk (barrier)
  • Focus: (1) can they do this job, (2) are they going to get better at this job?

What are you amazing at?3

How did the culture at your current company empower or disempower you?2

What were the characteristics of the best boss you’ve ever had?2

Describe how you handled a conflict with one of your coworkers.2

What kind of feedback do you expect to receive in this role and how often do you expect to receive it?2

What do you like most about your current position? What do you like least?

What are two of your personal or professional goals?4

What kinds of roles have you been able to learn quickly? What roles have been difficult to learn?4

What situations give you strength? Personal satisfaction? Fulfillment?4

Tell me about a time when someone doubted what you had to say.4

3-4 competency questions based on the job (e.g., teaching others what you know, improving a process, understanding a complex problem domain, working with others to accomplish a task)

  1. Management and Leadership Skills for First-time Supervisors and Managers; SkillPath seminar (2017)
  2. https://www.inc.com/david-walker/after-giving-1000-interviews-i-found-the-4-questions-that-actually-matter.html (2017)
  3. http://www.akhilaryan.com/memoirs/2016/1/6/one-absolutely-essential-question-you-should-ask-while-hiring-someone (2016)
  4. First, Break All the Rules; Buckingham (1999)

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