The overall premise of behavioral interviewing is that past behavior is an accurate predictor of future behavior. Applicants who have successfully handled a specific task or difficult challenge can be expected to deal with a similar issue in a similar manner.
Employers who engage in behavioral interviewing are looking to see how applicants have behaved in the past when faced with particular challenges or in specific procedures on how to get things done. Instead of asking the traditional questions posed in regular interviews such as: please describe your strengths and weaknesses, behavioral interviewing asks questions like, “tell me about a time when you had to persuade a group of people to see things in a different way in order to get the job done in the most expedient way possible”.
To prepare for a behavioral interview you must research the organization and find out all of the ins and outs of the organization and its culture. In the interview it’s important to be specific in your responses and describe specific situations that relate directly to the question. When interviewing you will want to describe a particular situation, what you did specifically, and the positive result or outcome – situation, action, result/outcome.
The interviewer may come back with questions at any time during the course of the interview and ask for specific examples or even behaviors that you exhibited when trying to get through a specific challenge. It’s important to listen carefully to the questions and ask for clarification when necessary.
When preparing to do an interview it is important to think of different scenarios that you can use if posed with behavioral interviewing questions. Reviewing your resume and using the experiences listed can be a good starting point when answering behavioral question in an interview.
When asked specific questions on previous behavior it’s important to include information from past internships, classes, activities, team involvements, community service and work experience. In addition, you may use examples of experiences where you may be especially proud such as participating in the Special Olympics, running a marathon, running for student body president, exhibiting painting in an art show, or any other activity that helps to set you apart from other applicants. Conducting a mock interview with the Career Services Office at your college or with a personal friend can help to prepare for an informational interview.
Sample Behavioral Interviewing Questions:
- Tell me about a time where your written communication skills needed to be utilized to get an important point across.
- Describe a situation when you had to think on your feet and take over to make a bad situation better.
- Describe a situation in which you were able to persuade an individual to see things your way.
- Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
- Please give me a specific example on how you were able to a wide variety of people, situations and environments.
- Describe a time when your were faced with challenges on the job that tested your coping skills.
- Give an example of a time in which you had to make a decision relatively quickly.
- Give a specific occasion in which you conformed to a policy with which you did not agree.
- Give me an example of an important goal which you had set in the past and how you were able to reach it.
- Describe the most significant or creative presentation which you have had to complete.
- Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
- Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).