Importance of Showcasing Behaviors at the Appropriate Level in Behavioral Interviews

Importance of Showcasing Behaviors at the Appropriate Level in Behavioral Interviews

By Vidal Graupera on 5/18/2023

In behavioral interviews, the stories you share should highlight behaviors and challenges appropriate to the job level you're interviewing for. This article will discuss the importance of aligning your responses with the position you're targeting and how it can impact your interview outcome.

Why Sharing Stories at the Right Level Matters

When interviewing for a senior position, it's crucial to share stories that demonstrate your ability to think and operate at or above the job level. If you share stories about problems and solutions that a less senior person could easily handle, you might be perceived as underqualified for the role, leading to down-leveling or being passed over.

Focus on Recent Stories

As a general rule, try to share recent stories that reflect your current abilities and expertise. Referring to stories from your earlier career when you were at a lower level may not showcase the depth of your experience and skills relevant to the role you're interviewing for.


Let's look at an example interview question and how it might be answered at two different levels: manager and director.

Question: "Could you tell us about a time when you had to lead a team through a significant change or challenging situation?"

Manager-level answer: "Absolutely. When I was a manager at XYZ Corp, we had a crucial project that was falling behind schedule. So I called together my team to understand the root causes of the delay. We found that there was a lot of miscommunication, leading to duplicate work and misunderstandings about people’s roles and responsibilities. I gave everyone clear swim lanes and introduced regular check-in meetings to improve communication and transparency. These changes helped us to get back on track and ultimately deliver the project on time."

Director-level answer: "In my most recent role as a Director at XYZ Corp, I led the organization through a major digital transformation initiative. When I took over the project, there was significant resistance to change within the team, and the project was behind schedule and over budget. I immediately set up a series of meetings to communicate the benefits of this change to the team and address their concerns. I worked with other the other directors in my org and the managers reporting to me to make sure everyone was on board. I also brought in external consultants to help streamline the process and bring fresh perspectives. We were able to turn the project around and deliver it successfully, significantly improving our operational efficiency and bottom line. Additionally, the transformation opened up new business opportunities, which has resulted in a 20% growth in revenue since its implementation."

In both of these examples, the candidate is clearly stating the problem, their approach, and the successful outcome. However, the director-level response displays a higher level of strategic thinking, cross-departmental collaboration, and wider business impact, which is expected at that level.

Using the STAR Method Effectively

One way to ensure your stories align with the job level is to use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result). This approach helps you provide a structured and detailed response that demonstrates your thought process, actions, and outcomes relevant to the job level.

For example, when sharing a story about a complex project you managed, emphasize the strategic decisions, high-level problem-solving, and leadership skills you demonstrated. Mention the challenges you faced, how you overcame them, and the results you achieved that showcase your capabilities at the desired job level.


Showcasing behaviors and challenges at the appropriate level is vital for success in behavioral interviews. By sharing recent and relevant stories that demonstrate your ability to perform at or above the job level, you can leave a positive impression and increase your chances of landing the position.

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