Behavioral interview questions have become a big part of the interview process as employers try to feel out the candidate's core competencies and skills required for the position they're trying to fill.
So, when job hunting, its imperative to get a good handle on them and prepare before going to the actual interview.
"Tell me about a time..."
Behavioral interview questions are a key tool used by recruiters to learn about how a candidate handles themselves in less-than-ideal workplace situations. After all, the most successful predictor of future performance is how you've performed in the past. Interviewers are looking for candidates to provide (1) a situation adequate to fit the question asked, (2) how they managed that particular situation, and (3) the outcome of the situation due to that behavior.
Depending on the position you're applying for, the questions themselves vary as hiring managers are attempting to reveal specific qualities important to the position. Questions typically revolve around central themes, including teamwork, client-relations, adaptability, time-management, motivation, communication, diversity, respect, leadership, and others.
Knowing how to effectively provide sufficient answers to the recruiter's behavioral questions can give you a leg up on the competition and can relieve some of the pressure associated with interviewing. Since these types of questions are so common, learning the methodology behind what recruiters are looking for will dramatically improve your candidacy for the position.
Behavioral interview questions can easily be approached with the S.T.A.R. approach, referring to Situation, Task, Action, and Result. When asked any behavioral question, remember the STAR system and begin by explaining the problem or situation, the task that needed to be completed to remedy the problem, what action you took in the interest of resolving the problem, and the results that came out of those actions.
This question is trying to assess leadership skills and your willingness to take initiative to achieve strategic goals. Using the star system, begin by stating the situation and its circumstances, followed by what you thought needed to be done to meet your goal, the actions you took, and the ultimate result.
You can connect to the interviewer on a deeper level by answering with a situation you believe they likely can relate to. If you're interviewing with a hospital, avoid using situations in the, for example, restaurant industry.
This behavioral interview question offers insight into your character traits and skills as they relate to the position you're interviewing for. The interviewer draws conclusions about your background and core values from the accomplishment you choose to describe, the details you use in your description, and even elements as nuances as body language and your use of inflection.
When recounting your accomplishment, be sure to draw ties to the position your interviewing for. Point out the qualities, traits, or skills that most helped you achieve your accomplishment and explain how those apply to the job you want.
Companies employ a broad diversity of people from all backgrounds and walks of life, and it's not realistic to ask everyone to like everyone else. Disagreements arise all too frequently, so interviewers ask these questions to ensure that they're hiring someone who will work well with the team, despite potential issues that may arise.
This question aims to assess whether or not the you'll handle future conflicts like these professionally, so its important to portray yourself in the best light possible. Using the aforementioned S.T.A.R. format, you can easily prepare an answer, rather than having to come up with one on the fly. Simply explain the disagreement or issue, how you decided to resolve it, actions you took, and the end result.
Choose the instance wisely and avoid any that involve asking someone to settle it in the parking lot. As crazy as it sounds, its not a very professional approach to conflict resolution.
With this question, employers are fishing for details about why you chose your education and/or university more than they care about the your program itself. They want to know what tangible, real-world connections you made, such as internships, assistantships, and residency programs.
To most effectively answer this question, think about the reasons your path has led to the interview. How have the practical experiences supplemented your academic studies in a way that makes you more effective at the position than the other candidates. At all costs, avoid answering with examples from college life that is... less than professional.
This question is one of the most common among all behavioral interview questions that you'll hear. Nearly every position works as part of a team in one capacity or another, making your ability to work effectively with others of very high importance.
Ask yourself what kind of team player they're looking for. Use your best judgement to determine what type of person they're looking for based on the job listing and all information you currently have about the company and position. If they're looking for someone to work in a collaborative environment, portray yourself as an "ideas" kind of teammate. Focus on problem-solving skills and your ability to argue the positives and negatives.
This is another conflict resolution question that's a pretty common behavioral interview question. The employer wants to know how you manage conflict with their clientele or customers to ensure that they maintain good relationships with them in the future. Simply choose an example in which you managed a situation and resolved in professionally without allowing the interaction to become personal.
Rather than using one of those examples where you just sat the phone down and let them rant until they finally hung up, choose a story in which you took the proper professional steps. These can include escalating the conflict to your immediate supervisor, firmly reinforcing company policy on the conflict, or any other step in which you adhered to the plan set in place by management to resolve things smoothly.
This is another very common question during an interview, particularly with large companies and organizations. This one's fairly straight forward in its intent because it all really comes back to teamwork. Most recruiters, when asking this question, are hiring for positions that involve some sort of team management and they need someone that can effectively direct them to meet goals.
Choose an example where you were entrusted with a responsibility or put in a situation and you took it upon yourself to find a solution. These examples can can include situations involving layoffs, company morale, performance, or taking on extra work when things get too busy or when short-handed. This question can easily be tied back to the "going above and beyond" question.
Persuasion is a useful skill in practically all areas of business and tie in nicely with other skills, particularly problem solving and conflict management. Whether you're in management or sales, you've probably worked to convince someone that they'd be better off if they did things your way. Employers look for candidates with this skill that can increase revenue through sales, manage team members, resolve conflicts in human resources, and a myriad of other positions.
To effectively answer this question, consider an example where your skills of persuasion have greatly benefited your employer, project, or team in achieving a much-needed strategic goal.
Many positions, particularly in healthcare, work on their feet for long hours and have task after task put in front of them. Its important to employers that their new hires be able to juggle multiple things at once and prioritize them by importance. This is more of a common sense question than any thing and should be easily answerable with a little preparation.
Use the S.T.A.R. method and choose an instance where you successfully managed a seemingly never-ending list of things required of you, what you did to keep track of things, what criteria you used to determine how urgent the task was, and how your actions led to the ideal outcome.
This one is less common behavioral interview questions, but if you are faced with it, it means that the company you're applying to values ethics and the values that their individual employees hold. Avoid lashing out at the company, coworkers, or job by pointing out first that you understand that good people find themselves in bad situations all the time. Even better, if the situation is one that you were asked to do something, such as sell someone a vacation they definitely cannot afford or ignore fatal flaws with a product or service, and managed to turn the situation around.
This is a very open question. Take your time and scour your work experience for examples before deciding on one in particular. Choose the one that makes you look the most professional and able to handle any situation.
Interviewers use behavioral interview questions to assess whether or not you have the skills, experiences, and competencies required to fill the position you're interviewing for. Demonstrate those skills by researching the company and deciding on well-thought-out responses to common questions.
Above all else, show yourself in the best light, no matter what the question, by providing an example of a situation you handled highly professionally.
Best of luck at your next interview!