Job interview preparation

The City of Calgary uses an interview method called behavioural based interviews to determine the best candidate for a job. 


Generally, when you are being interviewed for a job, the interviewer/s asks you a number of questions in relation to:

  • skills, knowledge, abilities and attitude
  • past employment and any previous experience related to the job
  • your demonstrated ability to fulfill the requirements of the job
  • knowledge of the job and of the organization
  • career goals, coursework, post-secondary education

Behavioural-based interviewing

Behavioural-based interviews are a method of interviewing used to learn about you, your experience and knowledge. Interview questions ask you to provide examples of how you handled a situation in your past. The premise of behavioural-based interviewing is, how you handled a situation in the past is a good predictor of how you will handle a similar situation in the future; past behaviour is a predictor of future behaviour. 

A panel usually includes two or three interviewers. Typically this is the immediate supervisor, Human Resources and/or one or two people from the immediate business unit or work area.

Preparing for the interview

Prepare for the interview by focusing on the responsibilities of the job and list the skills required for each task. What are the key components of the job? What work-specific, transferable and personal management skills are required to do the work well? 

Do a personal assessment and think of situations in which you have used the skills the job requires (e.g. leading a team, project management skills, problem-solving skills, communication skills, etc.).

The types of interview questions you will be asked depend on the requirements of the position you are being interviewed for. For example, if a job requirement is 'working to deadlines', the interviewers are looking for candidates to provide examples of:

  • organizational skills
  • the methodology used in prioritizing competing tasks,
  • and meeting deadlines. 

The situations you describe do not have to be directly related to work - they may be related to leisure activities, volunteer work or school projects. If you are a student, look through your research papers and list the skills you needed to complete an assignment or project. Similar to working on a volunteer committee or being a volunteer, you have gained experience in dealing with people and we want to hear from you about how you handled these situations and what you learned from them.

Prepare short stories

Develop at least three short, but detailed and specific, stories about how you handled situations similar to those you might encounter on the job. Each of your stories should have a beginning, middle and end. Begin with a brief description of the situation (e.g. a problem you faced, a task you were assigned), then describe what you did. End by describing what happened as a result of the action you took. If possible, include numbers or statistics confirming the positive results you achieved.

Also, be prepared to provide examples of times when things did not turn out as you planned. What went wrong? What did you do? What contingencies did you have in place? What did you learn from the experience?

If none of your prepared stories fit the requirements of the questions asked during the interview, take time to think about your answers. You cannot anticipate all of the possible questions, so be prepared to think on your feet.

​Interview tips

  • Visit the Help in applying page, and take the Prepare for an interview e-learning course
  • Print off and review the posting prior to the interview.
  • Be prepared to talk about your work experience.
  • Rehearse your examples as though you are telling a story before the interview.
  • You may want to provide a professional portfolio with examples of your past work and credentials.
  • Be prepared to provide three professional references.
  • Being well dressed and well groomed is important for first impressions.
  • Try your best to be five to ten minutes early.
  • Shake hands firmly only if you are comfortable doing so.

During the interview

  • Practice eye contact; remember to breathe; most of all…relax. • Get comfortable – consider your body language.
  • Take notes/names of the interview panel.
  • Share your examples as though you are telling a story.
  • Use “I” rather than “we”, “us”, “they” or “our”. After all, the interview is about you.
  • If you don’t understand the question, ask the interviewer to repeat/clarify.
  • Listen carefully and make sure you answer the question. Smile occasionally.
  • Accomplishment statements, which describe results, achievements, and successes from your past, make a good impact.
  • If you have a disability, we understand that disclosure to a potential employer is an important and complex decision, and it is entirely yours to make. The City of Calgary supports a diverse workforce and we encourage you to share with us any accommodation that you may need for an interview and in order to do your job.