Ever wondered why you go on one interview after the next but never seem to get the job? Or perhaps you have been submitting one resume after the other but just can’t seem to get a shot at an interview. Well, this series of blogs, The Making of a Star Candidate, may be just what you need to fine-tune your skills and bring your job search to the next level.
In the fourth and final post of the series, we’ll take a look at something that stumps many candidates—the behavioral-based interview. As the name implies, these questions assess how an interviewee acts in particular situations, the idea being that past performance predicts future performance.
With traditional interviews, we have trained ourselves to look at a list of questions and memorize responses. With behavioral-based questions, the possibilities are nearly endless, which makes memorization an unrealistic solution. It won’t hurt to be familiar with a few classic questions (see below), but before you burn the midnight oil surfing the web for sample questions, let’s regroup and consider a different approach. The interviewer is going to be asking specific questions about your experience, right? So why not look at the primary source—your resume!
By now, you have hopefully crafted your resume with pithy, brilliant bullet points (If not, check out some resume tips). Go into the interview knowing your resume, which sounds obvious, right? However, can you look at the bullet points and elaborate upon experiences connected to each qualification and job duty listed? Also remember that interviewers want to know about a real situation and what you DID do, not about a hypothetical situation and what you WOULD do. If you provide hypotheticals, you did not answer the question.
So now you have your homework assignment for behavioral-based preparation: use your resume to refresh your mind with situations from past positions. Instead of trying to anticipate which questions to practice, invest your time in creating an arsenal of pertinent work situations as the foundation of your interview preparedness. While this approach does not give you a memorized list of questions and answers, the foundation you create will be a source you can draw from to tactfully apply your experiences to each behavioral question asked.
And now for one last but very important piece of advice: be true to yourself! Distorting behavior, preferences, etc. just to fit the needs of a particular position may end with a job offer, but you and your new employer will soon realize the lack of compatibility. In this situation, nobody wins—neither you nor your employer. So yes, always put your best foot forward, but also be sure that your responses are a true reflection of you as a candidate so you end up in a positive, productive employment situation.
As promised earlier, here are four common behavioral questions that you may encounter in some form or another, just to help get you started:
- Tell me about a time you went above and beyond to get a job done.
- Give an example of the most rude or irrational person you have had to deal with. How did you handle it? What would you do differently now?
- Tell me about a time you set and achieved a goal.
- Tell me about a time when you had to be persuasive and sell your idea to someone else.