Guest Author - Dianne Walker
There are many types of interview questions – open-ended, situational and behavior-based. Employers may use one or a combination of questions in order to glean the information they need to fit the candidate to the job. More HR departments are steering toward behavioral-based questions to determine the best fit for the job.
What makes a behavioral based interview different? Behavior based questions typically start with the same lead-in;
- Tell me about a time...
- Describe a time…
- Have you ever faced...?
Interviewers are looking for a specific time in your work experience when you exhibited the skills required in the position.
Where do most candidates fail? Unfortunately, candidates often fail because they do not provide the requested information. Suppose the interviewer asks, “Tell me about a time when you exhibited teamwork skills.” An unsuccessful candidate will launch into a definition of teamwork or some other generalities without specifically answering the question. The successful candidate will reach into their experience and share a specific detailed incident without being too wordy.
It is possible to prepare for behavioral-based interviews by having the story basics ahead of time. When you get down to it, most interviewers ask the same questions in different formats. Prepare basic stories on teamwork, difficult customers and getting along with co-workers. Knowing your stories ahead of time will help you to get through much of the interview.
There will be questions, however, you will be unable to prepare in advance. This type of questioning will also require you to quickly think on your feet. One of the best ways to practice is to get someone to ask you behavioral-based questions. This allows you to get in the habit of responding quickly.
If you cannot think of an answer right away, don’t rush a generic answer just to respond to the question. A good interviewer will wait for you to come up with an answer. A response such as, “That’s an excellent question; give me a moment to think of a time which will best exemplify the answer.” Substitute the words “the answer” with the words from the actual question to show that you are listening.
Behavioral-based questions can be difficult. It’s so easy to become flustered. Some candidates concentrate so hard on an answer, they actually forget the original question.
By preparing yourself ahead of time and rehearsing possible responses, especially to common questions, you will be able to ace any interview regarding behavioral-based questions.