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IF YOU HAVEN’T BEEN THROUGH A “BEHAVIORAL INTERVIEW” YOU COULD BE CAUGHT “OFF-GUARD”

YOU MAY BE ASKING:

WHAT IS A “BEHAVIORAL INTERVIEW”?

Is “Behavioral Interviewing” a New Technique?

No, behavioral interviewing has been around since the 70’s when industrial psychologists developed a way of “accurately” predicting whether a person would succeed in a job.

They concluded that if candidates were asked questions that requested examples of past behavior it would be an indicator of their future behavior.

So, employers began using this interviewing technique to determine whether you were a good fit for the job. The technique is of growing interest to companies who would like to choose the “right” candidate, especially in today’s market with so many candidates for them to choose from.

The types of questions that are asked using this technique are used to find out how and what you did in the past and the skill sets you used in the process – if you did it before you can do it again!

The difference between a behavioral question and other questions is what the question asks for. A behavioral question will be very specific. For example when asked, “Tell me about a time when you solved a problem,” the key words are “a time.” This answer calls for a “specific” example of a “specific” incident.

When traditional questions are asked they usually include the word “if.” When “What would you do if…” questions are asked you can use your imagination to come up with an answer. For example, “What would you do if you had a problem to solve?”

The word, “if,” is the clue word that indicates the interviewer wants to hear your thought process – how you think through a problem. This question does not require a past experience example.

While preparation is important for every interview, it is essential to prepare for the behavioral interview. You must have examples or stories for anything you have claimed on your resume or that you say in an interview.

One example would be, if you claimed you were very organized on your resume. A natural question for the interviewer would be: “Tell me about a time when you organized a project.”

It is now your task to let the interviewer know that you have had success when organizing a project or event. In other words, prove what you said you did by providing an example.

There are several methods and acronyms suggested for formatting your stories but the main point to remember is that any story has three key elements:

  • A beginning – “There was a time….”
  • A middle – “The action steps I took were…”
  • An Ending – “The end result was…”

Stories should be interesting and full of action. Give the interviewer something to remember about you. A savvy interviewer will be able to hear skills from the stories and judge your behavior from your past actions. The more details and skills you can work into your story, the more convincing your story will be.

Preparing your stories before the interview will take the mystique out of behavioral interviewing and allow you to tell the success stories you want your interviewer to hear.

Through your examples the interviewer will begin to get a clear picture of you and be able to decide whether you are the right person for the job based on your past experience and successes.

Carole Martin – www.interviewcoach.com


These answers and many more can be found in the book, “Boost Your Interview IQ, Second Edition” (2012) Mc-Graw-Hill publication.

Carole Martin, author. :

Take this short Behavioral Quiz for New Grads

As with any new experience that requires skill you learn from experience and improve the more you practice and apply the techniques you learned. Learning how to interview during an actual job interview could be a costly way to learn. Preparation before the interview will make a difference and help you feel more confident – and less nervous.
Below are sample answers to one of the most difficult questions asked in an interview. Even seasoned interviewers struggle to answer this question. How would you answer the question?

Question: “Tell Me About Yourself .”

Answer #1. “Overall, I think I am very well rounded. I have many interests including music, film, sports, current events and politics. I have played sports in high school and college and consider myself to be a team player. I think something that makes me unique from other candidates is that I am very entrepreneurial. I’ve been investing in the stock market since I was 15 and have started my own businesses in high school.”
For the most part this answer is ok, but very general. Failing to give specifics you are betting on the fact that your resume was not only read – but studied. Often times an interviewer will skim the resume, so it is a good idea to offer some background information. There are some interesting facts in this answer but it needs more structure and detail.

Answer #2. “ I graduated last year with a degree in science. I have maintained a 4.0 in my major and have been on the Dean’s List First Honors three times. I know several computer programs and languages including SQL, Java, Visual Basic, I have worked part-time while going to school as a tutor to students during the school year. Some of my projects while in college were computing analytical and conceptual problems using Excel and forecasting data with SPSS for Applied Statistical Methods.”
While this answer offers a great deal of information about you and your education but is basically the answer to the question: “Walk me through your resume.” You may be asked that question in an interview, but it is not the same answer you would provide if asked: “Tell me about yourself.” This answer focuses primarily on your knowledge-based skills with very little information about your traits or personal qualities. A stronger answer would offer a more comprehensive picture of who you are as a person as well as a student.

Answer #3. “ To begin, I am in the process of finishing my BA in Finance – that I will complete in December. I have worked with computers since I was young and am able to take a problem and work through a solution using a combination of technology and analytical thinking. I have a high work ethic and you could even call me “hungry” when it comes to work. I will do whatever it takes to get the job done – including staying up until 5 and 6am. I am very physically fit and use my work out time to solve problems that I am stuck on.”
This answer is the best answer because it answers the question “Tell me about yourself” and offers a broad picture of you as a person. It includes skills and traits and hopefully entices the interviewer to want to know more. It is a good point to talk about your work ethic and your attitude toward hard work.

WHICH DID YOU CHOOSE??

There are no “right” or “wrong” answers, but some answers will be stronger than others and leave more of a lasting impression. By preparing ahead you will be able to talk about yourself and what you have to offer even though you may feel like you don’t have much experience to offer.

Carole Martin – www.interviewcoach.com



These answers and many more can be found in the book, “Boost Your Interview IQ, Second Edition” (2012) Mc-Graw-Hill publication. Carole Martin, author.

Take the Student Quiz to see how you do!