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A Guide to Behavioral Interviewing

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Behavioral interviewing – we’ve all heard the term before and it seems to be the preferred method for interviewing job candidates. But what is behavioral interviewing and how can you prepare for this style of questioning so you can succeed in your next interview?

Behavior interviewing includes questions designed to gather insight into how you handled a specific situation in the workplace. The interviewer will want examples of what happened, what you did and how you achieved a positive outcome. The approach is fact-finding and focuses on your actual past actions and experiences versus what you should or would have done in various situations. It fosters a more interactive interview and provides an interviewer the opportunity to probe further or refocus a question.

From a candidate perspective, although this interviewing approach encourages an unbiased or more “neutral” style of questioning, it can be some of the most challenging questions to answer on the spot. Here are some common behavioral interviewing questions and how best to respond to this type of interviewing.

Ten Common Behavioral Interviewing Questions:

  1. Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
  2. Give an example of a goal you didn't meet and how you handled it.
  3. Describe a stressful situation at work and how you addressed it.
  4. Tell me about about a time you were under pressure to complete a task. What did you do to achieve it?
  5. Think about a time when you were working on multiple projects. How did you prioritize to complete what was most pressing?
  6. Describe an instance where you had to meet a tight deadline. How did you handle it?
  7. Give an example of how you have set goals and achieved them.
  8. Give an example of how you've worked on a team effectively.
  9. Have you handled a difficult situation with a co-worker? If so, how?
  10. Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers.

What’s the best approach to answering behavioral interviewing question?

Practice the STAR method to ensure you are providing specific and valuable information to the interviewer.

  • (S) Situation - Describe the situation in which the event took place.
  • (T) Task - Describe the task you were asked to complete. If there was a particular problem or issue you were trying to solve, describe that here.
  • (A) Action - Explain what action you took to complete the task or solve the problem.
  • (R) Results - Explain the result of your actions. For example, if your actions resulted in completing a task, resolving a conflict, improving your company’s sales record, etc., explain this. Try to focus on how your actions resulted in a tangible success for the company.

Prior to your interview, make sure you thoroughly review the job description of the role you’re applying for, focusing on the skills and capabilities needed to be successful in that role. Think about specific examples and experiences that demonstrate these skills and capabilities in action. Practice your interview with a friend or family member, answering some behavioral interviewing questions as if it was the actual interview.

The more prepared you are for your interview, the more comfortable and confident you will come across to the interviewer!

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