Building future workplaces

The Manager’s Guide to Mastering BEI Techniques

The Manager's Guide to Mastering BEI Techniques


Behavioral Event Interviewing (BEI) has become a critical tool, especially within the realm of human resources. BEI is an innovative interview technique centered around understanding how candidates have handled specific situations in their past work experiences. This method contrasts sharply with traditional interviews, which often depend on hypothetical scenarios or broad questions. The core principle of BEI is the conviction that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance, offering deep insights into a candidate’s array of competencies, including problem-solving, leadership, and adaptability.

The significance of BEI in the contemporary business world is immense. In an age where securing the right talent is paramount for success, BEI’s competency-based interview approach is invaluable for managers. It allows them to delve deeper than the resume, gaining a more profound understanding of a candidate’s professional persona and how well they might integrate into the team and company culture. By concentrating on tangible, real-life experiences, BEI is instrumental in identifying candidates who not only possess the necessary skills but also resonate with the organization’s core values and ethics.

For managers seeking to refine their interviewing skills, BEI provides a framework that goes beyond traditional interviewing techniques. It equips them with the ability to make more informed decisions in the hiring process, ensuring a closer alignment between the candidate’s capabilities and the organizational needs. This shift towards competency-based interviews like BEI is a testament to the evolving nature of talent acquisition, where the emphasis is increasingly on the qualitative aspects of a candidate’s professional journey.

What is Behavioral Event Interviewing?

Behavioral Event Interviewing (BEI) is a revolutionary and structured interviewing approach, tailored specifically to evaluate how candidates have behaved in past professional contexts. At the heart of BEI is the fundamental belief that a person’s past behavior is the most reliable indicator of their future performance. This philosophy sets BEI apart from traditional interview methods, which often lean towards theoretical or situational questions.

BEI stands out by its focus on real-life instances from a candidate’s career history. For example, rather than asking a candidate how they would theoretically handle a team conflict, BEI poses a more direct and experiential question like, “Can you describe a specific situation where you resolved a conflict within a team?” This approach allows interviewers to gain a vivid, authentic picture of the candidate’s skills and behaviors.

The primary distinction between BEI and conventional interviewing lies in BEI’s emphasis on factual evidence over hypothetical speculations. While traditional interviews may permit candidates to provide theoretical answers about how they might act in certain scenarios, BEI demands tangible, real-world examples. This requirement for concrete evidence greatly enhances the accuracy in assessing a candidate’s suitability for a specific role. It significantly diminishes the risk of erroneous judgments that can occur when candidates are evaluated solely based on their responses to hypothetical situations.

In essence, Behavioral Event Interviewing represents a significant shift in interview methodology. It offers a more precise and effective means of assessing potential hires, focusing squarely on demonstrable experience rather than conjectural responses. For managers and HR professionals aiming to improve their interviewing skills, embracing BEI techniques can lead to more informed hiring decisions, ensuring a better alignment between a candidate’s proven capabilities and the role’s requirements.

The Significance of Competency-Based Interviews

Competency-based interviews have become pivotal. These interviews prioritize evaluating a candidate’s key competencies that are essential for the job role, such as critical thinking, teamwork, leadership, and adaptability. By zeroing in on these specific skills, recruiters are better positioned to predict a candidate’s potential performance and their suitability within the organization’s framework.

Behavioral Event Interviewing (BEI) is deeply intertwined with the competency-based interview approach. BEI focuses on gauging a candidate’s competencies by exploring their past actions and decisions in real-life scenarios. For example, to evaluate problem-solving skills, BEI would involve asking a candidate to describe how they navigated a complex problem, emphasizing the steps they undertook, the challenges they faced, and the outcomes achieved. The detail and depth of their response provide valuable insights into their real-world problem-solving capabilities.

This synergy of BEI with competency-based evaluation is what makes it an exceptionally powerful tool in recruitment. Unlike traditional interview techniques, which might only scratch the surface of a candidate’s abilities and potential, BEI ensures a deeper, more authentic assessment. It ensures that candidates are not only qualified in theory but are demonstrably capable and competent in practical, real-world situations.

Developing Effective BEI Questions

Crafting effective BEI (Behavioral Event Interviewing) questions is crucial to unveil the key competencies essential for the role. These questions should be open-ended, inviting candidates to share detailed past experiences. A well-constructed BEI question typically starts with prompts like “Tell me about a time when…” or “Describe a situation where…”.

For instance, to assess teamwork, you might ask, “Can you describe an instance where you had to collaborate with a difficult team member to complete a project?” This question compels candidates to share specific experiences, showcasing their ability to navigate team dynamics and conflict resolution.

Another example could be for leadership assessment: “Tell me about a time you led a project under tight deadlines.” This question digs into their leadership and time management skills, revealing how they prioritize tasks and motivate teams under pressure.

When developing BEI questions, the focus should be on real-life examples that allow the candidate to demonstrate their competencies practically. This approach is more telling than hypothetical scenarios, as it reflects their actual work behavior.

Conducting the BEI: Techniques and Best Practices

Conducting a Behavioral Event Interview (BEI) effectively requires a structured approach and adherence to best practices to ensure comprehensive competency assessment. The process can be outlined in the following steps:

  1. Preparation: Before the interview, clearly identify the competencies crucial for the role. This preparation aids in tailoring the BEI questions to probe these specific areas.
  2. Setting the Stage: Start the interview by explaining the BEI process to the candidate, ensuring they understand the focus on past experiences and behaviors.
  3. Asking BEI Questions: Utilize the prepared questions to elicit detailed behavioral examples. For instance, ask about a specific challenge they faced and how they handled it to understand their problem-solving skills.
  4. Active Listening and Observation: This is key in BEI. Listen not just to what is said, but how it’s said. Observe non-verbal cues that might indicate passion, hesitation, or confidence. Active listening helps in comprehending the depth of the candidate’s experiences and skills.
  5. Probing Further: If a response is vague, probe deeper with follow-up questions like “Can you tell me more about your role in that situation?” This ensures that you gather as much relevant information as possible.
  6. Closure and Next Steps: Conclude the interview by summarizing key points and informing the candidate about the next stages in the recruitment process.

Remember, the essence of BEI is not just in the questions asked, but in the keen observation of responses – both verbal and non-verbal.

Interpreting Candidate Responses in BEI

Interpreting candidate responses in Behavioral Event Interviewing (BEI) is a nuanced process that goes beyond just hearing the answers. It involves analysing the depth, relevance, and consistency of the responses to assess suitability for the role.

One effective technique is the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result). When a candidate describes a past experience, focus on the Situation they were in, the Task they had to accomplish, the Actions they took, and the Results of those actions. This method helps in breaking down the response to evaluate the competencies being assessed.

For instance, if a candidate describes resolving a conflict within their team, pay attention to the specific actions they took and the outcome of those actions. Did they demonstrate effective communication and problem-solving skills? What was the impact of their actions on the team dynamics and the project’s success?

Behavioral indicators such as initiative, teamwork, and adaptability should be gauged through these real-life examples. The candidate’s body language and tone can also provide insights into their confidence and sincerity.

Remember, the goal of BEI is not just to understand what candidates did, but how they did it and what they learned. This information is invaluable in assessing whether they will be a good fit for the role and the organizational culture.

To learn more about our BEI Certification Program, click here.

Integrating BEI with Other Interviewing Approaches

Integrating Behavioral Event Interviewing (BEI) with various interviewing techniques can significantly elevate the recruitment process, providing a well-rounded perspective of a candidate’s skills and their potential alignment with organizational needs. While BEI excels in assessing past behaviors and competencies, combining it with other methods, like situational or technical interviews, enhances the overall evaluation by examining a candidate’s future potential and specific technical skills.

For instance, BEI can effectively uncover a candidate’s teamwork abilities from past experiences. Complementing this with situational interviews allows recruiters to assess how the candidate might approach team challenges in future scenarios. In the same vein, technical interviews are instrumental in evaluating hard skills crucial for particular roles, offering a balance to the behavioral insights gained from BEI.

However, the integration of various interviewing techniques requires meticulous planning. It’s important to ensure that each method aligns coherently with the interview’s overarching objectives, avoiding repetitive or redundant questions. Interviewers also need to be skilled in navigating seamlessly between different types of questions, maintaining a fluid and natural progression in the conversation.

Leveraging Technology in BEI

The incorporation of technology into Behavioral Event Interviewing (BEI) marks a significant advancement in refining and streamlining the interview process. With the advent of sophisticated tools and platforms, various facets of BEI, from organization to execution and analysis of interviews, have been transformed.

A notable technological development in this realm is the use of sophisticated interview software. These tools allow for the recording and transcription of interviews, providing a more comprehensive method to analyse a candidate’s responses. For instance, platforms like offer transcription services, enabling interviewers to concentrate on the interaction without the distraction of extensive note-taking.

Additionally, video interviewing tools such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams have become indispensable, especially for conducting remote interviews. These platforms provide functionalities like screen sharing and recording, simplifying the process of conducting and reviewing interviews regardless of geographical boundaries.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) represents a groundbreaking development in enhancing BEI. AI technology has the capability to analyse verbal and non-verbal communication, offering insights that might be overlooked in conventional interviews. For example, platforms like HireVue use AI-driven assessments to analyse nuances in candidates’ speech patterns, word choices, and even facial expressions, providing a deeper understanding of the candidate’s responses. Adopting these technologies not only makes the BEI process more efficient but also provides a richer, data-driven basis for evaluating candidates. For an overview of technology tools that support BEI, you can visit resources like Gartner’s HR technology insights, available here.

Overcoming Common Challenges in BEI

Overcoming common challenges in Behavioral Event Interviewing (BEI) is crucial to maintain the integrity and effectiveness of the process. A primary issue often encountered is the potential for interviewer bias. This can be mitigated by using a standardized set of questions for all candidates, ensuring consistency and fairness. Additionally, having a diverse panel of interviewers can provide varied perspectives and reduce individual biases.

Another challenge is the candidate’s tendency to give rehearsed or hypothetical answers. To counter this, interviewers can probe deeper with follow-up questions, encouraging candidates to provide specific, real-life examples. It’s also beneficial to create a comfortable interview atmosphere, where candidates feel at ease to share genuine experiences.

Sometimes, interviewers might face difficulty in interpreting responses. Training in BEI techniques, particularly in active listening and analysing non-verbal cues, can enhance the interviewer’s ability to accurately assess candidates’ competencies.

Furthermore, leveraging technology, like AI-driven analysis tools, can offer an objective assessment of candidates’ responses, aiding in more impartial decision-making.


Behavioral Event Interviewing (BEI) has emerged as a highly effective and insightful technique in human resources, revolutionizing traditional recruitment processes. By concentrating on a candidate’s past behaviors and competencies through real-life scenarios, BEI allows for a profound understanding of a candidate’s genuine potential, surpassing the superficial analysis offered by conventional interviews.

The integration of BEI with other interviewing methods, along with the strategic implementation of technology, greatly enhances its efficiency and depth. This combined approach enables a more thorough and nuanced evaluation of candidates, providing a clearer picture of their true capabilities.

Key to maximizing the benefits of BEI is overcoming common challenges like interviewer bias and rehearsed candidate responses. By standardizing interview questions, providing interviewers with training in active listening and interpretation of responses, and leveraging AI technology for unbiased analysis, organizations can ensure a more equitable and effective interview process.

Ultimately, mastering BEI is an investment in securing the right talent for an organization. It’s about identifying individuals who are not just technically skilled but also resonate with the organization’s culture and values. In today’s competitive business environment, this alignment is crucial for driving success and fostering growth. BEI stands not just as a tool for assessment, but as a strategic component in building a dynamic and cohesive workforce, pivotal to an organization’s long-term success.

Useful Links from HBR

How to design a better hiring process

The Right Way to Conduct a Job Interview

Are Your Hiring Managers Really Hiring The ‘Right’ people For The ‘Right’ Jobs?

Get Accredited in BEI

Become a Certified BEI Practitioner (C-BeiP) – master the skills needed to hire the right talent for your organisation.

Reach Us

Latest Posts