How do I prep for behavioral-based Interviewing?

Behavioral-based interviewing is centered on the principle that past behavior is the very best predictor of future behavior. Makes sense, right? How we behave in the past is the most effective way to see how we will behave in the future.

For hiring managers, this type of interview technique theoretically helps reveal how a potential employee will behave in a particular situation. The candidate may not have been in a situation exactly like the position they’re interviewing for, but behavioral questions can expose how they perceive an issue, respond to a challenge, or solve a problem.

Job seekers, you can prepare for these types of questions with some basic advance planning.

Behavioral-based questions generally fall into these categories:

  • Teamwork
  • Problem-solving
  • Leadership
  • Conflict resolution
  • Work ethics
  • Biggest failure

Here are some examples of behavioral-based questions:

  • Describe a specific example about when you set a goal and how you went about achieving it.
  • Tell me about a time you took the initiative and solved a problem without being asked.
  • Give me an example of a time you had to make an unpopular decision.
  • Give me examples of how you’ve motivated others.
  • Tell me how you’ve lead a team to complete a specific project and the team included someone who didn’t like you or vice versa.
  • Tell me about a time when you failed to meet a goal and how you handled the situation.

If you prepare thoughtfully, you can be ready for any variation of these questions. Come up with an example of how you dealt with an issue in each of the categories above, and you’ll usually find it’s in the form of a story. Rehearse your answers so you’ll be prepared. It’s crucial that you listen closely to the interviewer; really hear what they’re asking you. It’s okay to take a moment to frame your response in your mind.

There are a couple of acronyms out there that can be useful to you as you think about these questions. They’re very similar and may be helpful:

  • CAR: Context, Action, Result
  • STAR: Situation, Task, Action, Result

Use these to structure your answers so that your stories are responsive and concise.

For hiring managers, these questions can reveal a lot about the candidate. The skillful interviewer will always listen carefully. Most likely, candidate responses will lead to more questions, and can foster a very informative conversation for both of you.

Whichever side of the table you’re on, this type of interviewing is very effective. It helps a job-seeker really think about their past experience in different ways and how effective (or not) they’ve been. If you are a hiring manager, you will learn much more about how the person actually behaves and help you more effectively evaluate the person’s potential.

Regardless, it’s here to stay. So from both sides, think behaviorally!

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