Behavioral Interviews

Show 'Em What You Know

Female business executive leading team discussion
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What is a Behavioral Interview?

A behavioral interview is a type of job interview. It is different from a traditional interview during which the interviewer asks the job candidate questions about his or her employment history. During a behavioral interview, the interviewer will ask you to give examples of how you used your knowledge, skills and abilities. These attributes are referred to as your competencies.

The examples you choose to give must demonstrate that you have what it takes to do the job at hand.

How to Prepare for a Behavioral Interview

You should always prepare for an interview whether you are about to face a traditional question and answer interview or a behavioral interview. There are things you can do before a behavioral interview that will put you at ease, make you feel and look more confident and make you stand out from the competition.

The first thing you must try to do is determine what competencies the prospective employer is looking for in a candidate. Carefully read through the job announcement even if you've already done this. Employers usually include clues about the type of candidate they are seeking. This information may simply be listed under job requirements or it may be hidden within the list of job duties. If it's the latter, you will have to figure out what competencies are needed to perform those duties.

Another way to learn what competencies the employer desires is to talk to a recruiter if you went through one.  You should also use your network to connect with people who know about the prospective employer and will know what attributes they most value.

If you can't get definitive answers about the particular position for which you are applying, try to make some educated guesses about the attributes needed for similar jobs.

You can consult job announcements for similar positions to find out what attributes other employers are seeking.

Once you have figured out what competencies the employer wants, you will have to come up with specific examples of how you used them. Try to answer some of the sample questions that follow. Do not be vague in your responses. You will have to give enough information to demonstrate that you possess a particular competency.

Sample Questions

  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with two coworkers who didn't get along with one another (You will need to demonstrate your team-building skills).
  • Describe a situation when you had to get a job done in spite of an unforeseen problem (You must show the interviewer that you can problem-solve).
  • Discuss a time when you had to use your powers of persuasion to get someone to do something (You will have to demonstrate your leadership skills).
  • Give me an example of a time you had to convince others to conform to a policy you didn't believe in (Again, you will have to show that you are a strong leader).
  • Tell me about a time you made a successful presentation to a prospective client (You will have to demonstrate your communication skills. You can also use this opportunity to talk about the research skills you used to prepare for the presentation).
  • Describe working on a project with a team of people who didn't always see eye to eye (The interviewer will be trying to determine if you have strong team-building skills).
  • Give an example of a time you had to make a decision quickly (You will want to show off your decision-making ability).

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