What is behavioral interviewing? Behavioral interviewing is a system focused on asking questions to determine whether a candidates past experiences make them suitable for a new position. The format for a behavioral interview is isn’t any different than a typical interview, but the questions are very different. The goal is for the responses to give an indication of a candidate’s professional conduct and how they handled specific situations. Behavioral interviewing can also help understand a person’s motivations, value alignment and problem solving abilities.
A typical interview may ask about “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” or “Describe your typical work week.” Behavioral interviewing questions will be more pointed and probing. Asking how you DID handle a situation rather than how you Might handle it in the future. Behavioral interview questions typically begin with “Tell me about a time when…” or “Describe for me a situation where…”. And expect a follow-up question or two to clarify and learn more.
Here are three tips to prepare for these type of questions.
- Be prepared to tell stories. Think of projects that you managed, or completed or played an integral role in and be ready to talk about them. Think about the specific Situation, the Tasks you specifically handled, the Actions you took and the Results of the project/story/situation. Thinking in these terms will provide the interviewer with the type of information they’re looking for.
- Match your qualifications to the job. Review the job description before going to the interview and be prepared to showcase stories of how you align with what the job description requires. Focus on some key words and experiences that you think will align with their needs.
- Listen closely, ask for clarification and take your time answering. Pausing before rushing into answering a question is perfectly acceptable and shows that you’re taking the time to think about the question. Listening and asking effective questions, even to clarify what’s being asked, shows that you have good communication skills. And strong communication skills are needed in every type of job and set you apart from those who are just answering questions without giving them much thought.
These tips will help you be prepared for whatever comes up in an interview and help you be more confident in your answers. Have you been asked behavioral interviewing questions in interviews in the past? Share your stories with us.