This post was written by members of PrimePay’s Talent Acquisition team: Daria Wick, Erin Murphree and Dan Krupansky.

What if there was a way to really get to know someone before extending a job offer to them - to understand the candidate on a deeper level than what meets the eye?   

Enter: The behavioral event questions. Let’s call them BEQs. These are questions that ask the candidate to describe a situation or experience that they had in a previous job.

Advantages of BEQs.

  • Equal opportunity for all candidates to share their experiences in a detailed manner.
  • Allows the interviewers to get in-depth information about what the candidates have done in a given situation.
  • BEQ interviews correlate well with successful job performance.

Determine what behaviors you are looking for. This of course depends on your industry and what position you’re hoping to fill. For hiring managers at PrimePay, here are five behaviors they’d love to see in the next employee:

  • Motivation
  • Client focus
  • Communication skills
  • Time management skills
  • Integrity/honesty

To break it down even further, here are a few specific examples of questions to ask to gauge the candidate’s aptitude in each of those categories.

  1. Motivation – Tell me about a time when you worked under close supervision or extremely loose supervision. How did you handle that?
  2. Client focus – Tell me about a time you have ‘inherited’ a customer. What steps did you take to establish rapport with them? What did you do to gain their trust?
  3. Communication skills – Give me an example of a time when you had to explain something fairly complex to a frustrated client. How did you handle this delicate situation?
  4. Time management skills – Give me an example of a time you managed numerous responsibilities? How did you handle that?
  5. Integrity/honesty – Tell me about a business/school situation when you felt honesty was inappropriate. Why? What did you do?

Common pitfalls.

Now that you have an understanding of what these types of questions are, you should have a grasp on how to interpret the answers. The following is a list of common red flags you may encounter during the interview. Look out for answer that:

  • Include the word ‘we’
  • Are generalized
  • Vague
  • Use the same example multiple times


Your BEQs should focus on what the interviewee did, said, felt, or thought. You shouldn’t ask hypothetical questions or ask what the candidate would have done in a certain scenario.

As always, before you ask any question, think to yourself: “Is this information really needed in order to judge a candidate’s competence or qualifications for the job at hand?”

Some general topics you should avoid are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Citizenship
  • Disabilities
  • Marital status/family
  • Military background (unless experience is job-related)
  • Irrelevant questions to job
  • Sexual orientation
  • Arrest record
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • Nationality
  • Current/past salary (Read the latest here).

Behavioral event questions are so important no matter if you’re new to hiring or you just want to learn better ways to find great candidates for your small business. 

What types of questions have you found success with when interviewing candidates?