If you’ve been out for interviews in the past five years, you might have noticed that some employers use behavioral interviewing as a technique to vet out the answers to their key question, which is “Which of these candidates best understands my current business problem?” In contrast to other types of structured interview questions, such as direct, technical, or situational, behavioral questions operate on the assumption that past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior. Candidates, however, hate behavioral interviews. They tend to become flustered, and the behavioral interview backfires—top performers are often screened out.
However, the behavioral interview is not going away anytime soon, so your best bet is to prepare for it. Start by writing out the answers to the following:
- What are the key messages that I want to convey?
- What is the business pain that the hiring manager is trying to solve?
- Where do I see an opportunity for my unique skills and experience to help alleviate that business pain?
In practice, behavioral interviews pose a question and give you the opportunity to tell a story about yourself and your experience, and how both relate to the role at hand. “Tell me about a time you disagreed with your manager about something. How did you resolve it? What was the outcome?” You want to tell a story that reflects your key messages, as noted previously. To do so effectively, you should employ the STAR method:
Situation. This is the preface of your narrative. Give background on the experience, and what your involvement was.
Task. Describe the challenge you faced, and what the expected outcome was.
Action. Detail the action you took in response to the challenge. Be sure to use “I” and/or “we” statements.
Result. Explain the results and the business impact, and then make them relevant to the position being discussed.
Your responses to behavioral questions should be succinct. No one wants to sit across from you and hear every detail of your pet project. Exclude extraneous details. Immediately describe the situation, articulates the task, describes the activity that was taken, and, most importantly, conveys the impact on the business.
Here ten of the most frequently posed behavioral questions:
- Tell me about how you work under pressure.
- Give me an example of a goal you reached, and how you achieved it.
- Describe a time you had to make an unpopular decision.
- Tell me about a time you disagreed with a team member.
- Describe how you set goals.
- Give me an example of a time you had a conflict with a team member.
- Talk to me about a time you had to deal with an unhappy client.
- Describe a project that you lead.
- Tell me how you keep current with the changes in your industry.
- What is the riskiest decision you’ve ever made?