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Tips for writing the behavioural part of your application and to assist in preparation if you are invited to interview


When preparing your application for a job vacancy you will find there are sections that ask you to “demonstrate” or “provide examples of” situations you have encountered or skills and attributes you hold.  Many candidates struggle with how to address these sections. Below is a methodology and some examples that we have found when followed, provide great information to the panel. It is not compulsory to use this methodology.


Whether it be in your application or at interview, the purpose is to present information about your skills and experience, but in a way that informs the reader more about how you have used that skill, rather than what skill you have. It is still important to state your skills and experience but of higher importance is to then provide examples that demonstrate your skills in action.


The information below is a methodology and some examples provided to guide you in preparing an effective application. Take time to read this carefully.  Please note that it is not compulsory to use this methodology.


The key process in preparing for an interview, or to write your application is as follows:

  • Read the job description/requirements of successful candidates carefully and highlight the key elements that you believe the panel is trying to elicit information on.
  • Brainstorm all the examples you can think of that may demonstrate this skill, putting down as many as you can so you have more to choose from. Some may be small examples on the face of it, but consider what skill is demonstrated, and include the best examples of each skill.
  • Consider which section of the application form the examples will fit under, or if preparing for an interview, which questions they might relate to.
  • Choose at least two key examples for each section and develop them using the STAR technique (see below).
  • Read your document back through and consider it from the position of someone that doesn’t know your practice – will they get a real sense of you from the examples? Will they be able to step into that example and see the achievements or lessons learnt?

Not everyone’s examples will be positive. You may have been in a situation that you failed in – these can often be great examples if they show that you have battled through something and come out on the other side, and the learning from that experience can often be more valuable than if you had achieved it easily. Don’t be afraid to use such an experience if you can also reflect on what you might do differently, or what you have learnt.

STAR Technique


Whether preparing examples for a functional CV/Application Form, or an interview, it is important to structure your answer so it provides the most relevant information in a context that supports your ability to perform on the job. We find the STAR technique quite useful.


Situation or


Describe the situation you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the reader to understand. This situation can be from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event, but the more relevant to the role you are applying for the better.

Action you took

Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did – not the efforts of the team. Don’t tell what you might do, tell what you did.

Results you achieved

What happened/what was the outcome for those involved? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? What might you do differently next time?




In some business areas providing examples of achievements is easy, but in people oriented businesses you have to work a bit harder. Below is a list of achievements a chiropractor has used in their CV, to demonstrate how they had won over a highly skeptical medical community as the first chiropractor to target MDs for informative in-service demonstrations, classes and booths:

  • Presentations resulted in standing-room-only crowds of 50+.
  • Four MDs subsequently became patients and referred family members as well.
  • Increased client base by one-third resulting from MD referrals.

These statements are proof of the outcomes they have achieved in winning over the medical community which is a good start, but they don’t take it that step further by explaining how they achieved it.



Looking at a couple of possible skill statements you might be asked to demonstrate:

  1. S/he should be able to support others to increase their confidence and individual learning and to take on leadership roles within the kindergarten.

       The type of responses we would expect for this might include the following:

  • An example of something you may have introduced to support others i.e., a peer mentoring scheme, peer review of learning stories, peer observations of activities with children – explain what it was you introduced in a sentence or two. This is the what.
  • Go on to describe what you actually did to introduce it, in order to get buy in from others, to ensure it was actually wanted/needed, and that everyone got the best out of it. This is the how.
  • Finish your example of the success/or not, of the initiative – have you seen an improvement in others’ confidence and what does that actually look like (i.e., I have seen XXX initiate their own activity in this area/or provide constructive feedback to their colleague in line with the mentoring guidelines). Be sure to describe the results not just state they have been achieved. This is the outcome.
  1. Confident in the use of ICT, especially in using with children to support and record their learning.

The type of responses we would expect for this might include the following:

  • A quick description of your personal confidence in ICT demonstrated by a list of what you use it for, but with particular reference to using it with children as stated in the specification.
  • You would follow this however with an example of how you have used ICT to support and record children’s learning i.e., a child arrived at kindergarten describing how they had seen news about a volcano erupting in the North Island,  and was very excited by this, so you worked with the child to research information about volcanoes. This is the situation or the what.
  • Go on to explain how you undertook this research, perhaps how other children became involved, and how this learning moved into other activities. This is the how.
  • Finally you need to describe the outcomes for children, perhaps being twofold with regard to you recording their learning (perhaps with their help); such as increased vocabulary, fostering curiosity and problem solving, as well as their increase in confidence in use of ICT – but you need to be able to explain why you believe their confidence has increased. What does this look like?





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