Behavioral Style Interview Preparation

More employers are using behavioral interviewing in the hiring process. This type of interview is based on the idea that the best way to predict your future performance is to examine your past and present performance in a similar situation. It focuses on experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities that are job related.

In a traditional interview, you will be asked a series of questions which typically have straight forward answers like "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" or "What major challenges and problems did you face? How did you handle them?" or "Describe a typical work week."

With the behavioral interview employers predetermine which skills are necessary for the job for which they are looking and then ask very pointed questions to determine if the candidate possesses those skills. Currently, 30 percent of all organizations are using behavioral interviewing to some degree. Prepare for behavioral interviews by researching what job competencies an employer might ask. Behavioral interview questions will be more pointed, more probing and more specific than traditional interview questions.

Top 10 Behavioral Interview questions:

  • Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.
  • How do you handle a challenge? Give an example.
  • Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?
  • Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
  • Describe a decision you made that wasn't popular and how you handled implementing it.
  • Give an example of how you set goals and achieve them.
  • Give an example of how you worked on team.
  • What do you do if you disagree with someone at work?
  • Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers.
  • Have you handled a difficult situation? How?

Follow-up questions will also be detailed. You may be asked what you did, what you said, how you reacted or how you felt.

Before the interview:

One way to prepare for the interview is to first consider the job description. What skills are listed as qualifications for the job? For example, does the organization say they need team players? Someone with a strong attention to detail? Keen problem solvers? Or someone with superior customer service? Once you have a greater understanding of the kinds of skills they are seeking, you can begin to reflect upon experiences in which you demonstrated these skills.

When answering the questions:

First, internally note what competency or skill the employer may be seeking (hint: it may be more than one) and then always make sure you.

Describe a specific, recent situation (if you can, try to keep it within two years). Detail your behavior or the actions you took to resolve the situation. (Be sure that your role is clear and significant.) Share the outcome or the results of the situation.

During a behavioral interview, always listen carefully to the question, ask for clarification if necessary, and make sure you answer the question completely. Your interview preparation should include identifying examples of situations from your experiences on your resume where you have demonstrated the behaviors a given company seeks.

When answering behavioral questions use the STAR Method and convey specific situations, actions, and outcomes/results:

  • Situation: Use specific details about a situation or task.
  • Task: Tell what led to the situation or task.
  • Action taken: Discuss what you did and who was involved.
  • Result or outcome: Communicate the outcome.

Before the interview process, identify two or three of your top selling points and determine how you will convey these points (with demonstrated STAR stories) during the interview.

Whenever you can, quantify your results. Numbers illustrate your level of authority and responsibility. For example: “I was Shift Supervisor.” Could be, “As Shift Supervisor I trained and evaluated 4 employees.”

Be prepared to provide examples of when results didn’t turn out as you planned. What did you do then? What did you learn? Your resume will serve as a good guide when answering these questions. Refresh your memory regarding your achievements in the past couple of years. Demonstration of the desired behaviors may be proven in many ways. Use examples from past internships, classes, activities, team involvements, community service and work experience.

It's important to keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers. The interviewer is simply trying to understand how you behaved in a given situation. How you respond will determine if there is a fit between your skills and the position the company is seeking to fill. So, listen carefully, be clear and detailed when you respond and, most importantly, be honest. If your answers aren't what the interviewer is looking for, this position may not be the best job for you anyway.