Behavioral interview questions are a specific group of interview queries meant to assess candidates’ soft skills, such as problem-solving, leadership, and teamwork ability.
These questions ask a candidate to talk about events from their professional past that indicate various strengths and abilities. Candidates that thoughtfully prepare anecdotes for these questions have the added bonus of walking in more confident than those who have not.
The anecdotes you prepare should concentrate on how you’ve effectively handled various on-the-job situations that required some aspect of your personality, problem-solving ability, or interpersonal abilities. When asked correctly, these should provide a sense of how a candidate would behave if they were hired and had to solve a similar situation. Therefore, hiring managers tend to ask behavioral questions that are very relevant to the job being sought. For example, if the job requires interacting with potential customers, behavioral interview questions might involve solving sales-related issues.
Your responses to these interview questions ought to be short stories that show off your abilities and actual achievements.
Preparation is the ‘STAR’
While you might be asked the occasional off-the-wall behavioral question, most hiring managers ask a lot of the same questions. Therefore, it’s useful to review typical behavioral interview questions ahead of time and practice your answers.
One approach to preparation is to consider anecdotes that relate each responsibility listed in the job description. Bear in mind that you don’t need perfectly tuned examples; only stories that feel relevant. For instance, if you’re seeking a supervisor job and don’t have formal leadership experience, you could tell a story about how you mentored new employees.
To answer behavioral questions, many people use a method called STAR – which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result:
The first part of your response to a behavioral interview question should set the stage, just as the first page of a good book provides you with a time and place. If you are asked about past leadership experience, for instance, your response should begin by laying out your employer at the time, the year, and the people involved. You should also provide some context that conveys the scope of your story.
Once you have set the stage and filled it with a cast of characters, you need to explain your key objectives from the outset. In a leadership situation, you may have been responsible for something as low-key as organizing the company Christmas party, or as important as overseeing a billion-dollar initiative.
Explain the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of what you did.
Using hard numbers and other quantifiable metrics, explain the results of your actions. Resist the temptation to over embellish your results, as a simple background check could reveal your exaggerations and make you seem untrustworthy.
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