Monday, March 17, 2014

Behavioral interviews

If you are not prepared, behavioral interviews can be incredibly challenging. This is where an interviewer will ask a candidate very specific questions and look for very specific answers. For example, “tell me about a time when you failed to complete a project on time.” Or perhaps: “what is the best example of when you acted as a leader?” This is where a candidate is expected to pick a specific example of when s/he acted as a leader. For example: “When my boss left the company, I noticed things weren’t functioning smoothly any longer. Our team started to miss calendar deadlines and the communication suffered. I decided that I needed to step up. Until our new boss joins the team, I have called regular team meetings to clear up communication and discuss upcoming deliverables. As a result, our team is back on track, we are 10% above sales goals, and my new boss is starting next week. Although it was a challenge in the beginning, I realized what needed to be done and stepped up as a leader.” What the interviewer does not want to hear is “I really lead the team. I have great leadership skills. People listen to me.” There is a clear difference between the two answers. One tells the interviewer you have leadership skills, the other tells the interviewer you think you have leadership skills.

While this is a great way for an interviewer to learn more about a candidate, it can really throw off a candidate if the candidate is not prepared. How can you prepare when you don’t have any idea what someone is going to ask?

What do you believe the company will ask?  Research behavioral interview questions. There are many examples online. Determine 5-10 major themes. Think about things like leadership, values, how you handle disagreements, communication, learning (how you learn from mistakes), ability to influence, determination, etc. Connect these with your work history. Think about a disagreement you may have had with your boss. How did you handle it? Write it down.

Behavioral questions tend to focus more on who you are rather than what you have done. What have you learned from your mistakes? If you made a mistake a year ago and encountered the same challenge, how did you adjust and learn from what happened a year ago? How do your answers fit with the company culture? Once you have the hang of it, behavioral interviewing gets easier.
What can you do to prepare for an interview? Even if the interviewer does not ask behavioral questions, how can you slip in some of your answers to give yourself a leg up on other candidates?

To learn more about career coaching, go to

No comments:

Post a Comment