Understanding how to answer behavioral interview questions may make it easier to land your dream job.
What is a Behavioral Interview?
A typical job interview consists of fairly straightforward questions. The interviewer might ask you to describe a typical day in your current position or inquire as to your biggest strengths and weaknesses. In a behavioral interview, however, the interviewer will want to know how you have dealt with specific types of situations in the past. Instead of being asked to give vague answers to questions about your career goals, you'll be expected to succinctly describe what you did, said, or felt in a particular circumstance. Behavioral interview questions are often open-ended and it's common for the interviewer to make additional inquiries in order to better understand your response.
According to human resource professionals, behavioral interview questions are very effective at determining a potential employee's value within a particular corporate environment. By asking an applicant to describe his/her past performance, the interviewer is able to predict how challenges will be handled in the new position.
Common Behavioral Interview Questions
If you're in the process of looking for a new job, it's important to realize that behavioral interviews are becoming increasingly common at both large and small corporations. Taking the time to think about how you might handle these questions may mean the difference between landing your dream job and settling for a less than ideal position.
Some of the more common behavioral interview questions used at job interviews include:
- Please give me an example of a time you demonstrated great initiative at work.
- Can you describe a time when you met an important professional goal for yourself?
- Tell me about the riskiest decision you've ever made in your professional career.
- Please give me an example of a time in which you took a leadership role.
- Can you describe a time when you used your critical thinking skills to diffuse a potential problem?
- Tell me about a time in which you were expected to work with someone who did not want your assistance on a particular project. How did you overcome your differences to get the job done?
- Please give me an example of a time when you were forced to deal with a stressful situation.
- Can you describe a time in which you had a personality conflict with a supervisor or coworker? How was this conflict resolved?
- Tell me about a time when you were expected to make a difficult ethical decision. How did you decide what course of action was the most appropriate?
- Please give me an example of a time when you were forced to make a decision that was either difficult or unpopular.
- Can you describe a time in which you strongly disagreed with a colleague's proposal? How did you effectively state your opinion?
Acing a Behavioral Interview
When conducting behavioral interviews, most employers are looking for honesty, candidness, and sincerity. Ideally, you'll want to prepare answers that demonstrate both your skills as an employee and your commitment to progress and growth. To successfully answer behavioral interview questions, frame your response as follows:
- Describe the problem. Briefly describe the situation, adding only as many details as the interviewer will need to see how your actions were appropriate to the situation.
- State what action you took. Outline your plan for dealing with the situation, describing what you said and did to resolve the issue.
- Summarize the results. Were your actions effective? Did you increase sales, boost productivity, or avert the loss of an important client? Looking back, do you believe you handled the situation correctly?
While you don't want to lie when answering any difficult job interview question, it's always best to put a positive spin on the situation. If you come across as pessimistic, hostile, and hypercritical, the interviewer may determine that you're not the right person for the job.