How to Succeed in Behavioral Interviews
Many employers now use behavioral interviews in place of standard interviews. Behavioral interviews focus on your ability to solve problems. The questions are about the behaviors you exhibited in past situations, because many companies believe that the actions of your past act as examples of how you will behave in future situations.
How Are the Questions Different?
Here is an example of a question found in standard interviews:
- What would you do if you did not agree with a supervisor’s request?
These types of questions are theoretical, “What would you do…?” Employers are starting to shy away from these questions because they test your ability to answer these questions more than your ability to handle the situations in question. Behavioral interviews phrase the same question differently:
- Think back to a time you disagreed with a supervisor. Describe did you handle it.
This request asks for a specific example. Many companies believe that by asking for a real example, they can get a hint of your true character. That is the theory behind behavioral interviews.
Preparing for Behavioral Interviews
Behavioral interview preparation can be difficult. You do not have the luxury of avoiding questions or making up answers that may not be 100% true. The best way to prepare is to come up with a list of stories you can choose from that highlight your skills and downplay your weaknesses. Then study that list to easily answer any questions.
You should also try to brainstorm what types of questions you will be asked in the interview. Most behavioral interview questions will focus on the following aspects of the position:
- Job Skills
- Potential Weaknesses
- Differences Between Good and Bad Candidates
You can also review common interview questions and think of how you would answer them if they were phrased as behavioral questions. If you have more than one story, try to find the one that reflects best on your abilities and problem solving skills.
Answering Behavioral Interview Questions
At the interview you will need to use your preparation and your conversational skills to answer these questions to the best of your ability. Answers should be delivered in the following order:
- Summarize of the past situation.
- Describe the actions you took to resolve it.
- Discuss the result of your actions.
Not every answer is going to have a positive outcome. For example, the question may ask you to summarize a mistake you made. But most of the time you will be asked to relay a story about how you solved an issue at your previous company, or what you would do in a hypothetical situation.
Notes on How to Answer Interview Questions
- Do not complain about past coworkers, managers, or job duties.
- Do not try to make up a fake story on the fly. You will not succeed.
- Focus on the positives, deliver the stories with a smile, and always answer questions about problems or difficulties as though you think back on them fondly, not negatively.
Sample Behavioral Interview Questions
Finally, in order to help you prepare for your behavioral interview, here are some examples of the types of questions asked by employers:
- Describe a time that you had a disagreement with another staff member.
- Give an example of a time that you went above and beyond expectations.
- What did you do the last time you were asked to do something you didn’t know how to do?
With the right preparation, practice, and the knowledge on basic interview skills, you can easily prepare yourself to ace the behavioral interview.