Friday Forum – What are Behavioral Interview Questions?

Every Friday, we take a question submitted by one of our readers and have our professionals field it and provide advice.  We then encourage you to comment below and give your personal take!

Here is This Week’s Question:

Tonya asks:

“I applied for a position a few weeks back and I just had the company recruiter reach out to schedule an interview.  I am very excited about this role as I think it could be a great move for me.  The recruiter said that the Hiring Manager will likely go through my employment history and ask a number of behavioral based questions.  What are behavioral interview questions?  Any pointers or tips on how to answer them?”

It is always a great idea to prepare for behavioral based interview questions as more and more Managers tend to go this route during their initial interview.  They use this method of interviewing to dig a little deeper and see what drives candidates to act and respond the way that they do.

What are behavioral based interview questions?

So what exactly are behavioral based interview questions?  In simple terms, it is a method where the interviewer will ask you to cite specific examples about your past work experiences to learn about your behaviors.  They will focus in on how you handled various situations in the past in order to uncover information regarding your skills, abilities, and personality.

The general idea is that they believe that your behaviors in the past will help predict your behaviors in the future.  With that being said, preparation is key when it comes to fielding these questions.  Many times candidates have had the experience and and can answer these questions, but since they are not prepared they have a tough time getting it out correctly.  Use the tips below and practice so you ready!

How should I answer behavioral based interview questions?

  1. Preparation – Answering these questions is a somewhat easy process as long as you are prepared.  The main reason that folks struggle is because they do not have an example in their mind ready to go and they draw a blank.  The first step in answering these questions happens way before you are even asked the question.  Set aside some time to look at the samples below and come up with a few examples that you can use.
  2. Set the scene – After you have been asked a behavioral question you need to set the scene and describe the situation in which the event took place.
  3. Issue – Next you need to describe the issue.  This could be the problem you were trying to solve, an interaction with a boss/co-worker, etc.
  4. What you did – Explain what you did to solve the problem or address the issue.
  5. Outcome – Finish up with a quick summary to explain the results of your actions.

Common questions that may be asked

  • Give an example of a goal that you reached and what you did to achieve it.
  • Tell me how you work under pressure.
  • Give an example of how you overcame a tough situation at work.
  • Describe a stressful situation at work and how you handled it.
  • Give an example of how you have worked on a team.
  • What have you done in the past when you have made a mistake?
  • Give an example of a time when you disagreed with a team member and how did you handle it?
  • Give an example of a time when you motivated employees.
  • What have you done in the past if you have disagreed with your boss?

What are Your Thoughts? Comment Below!

How do you answer behavioral based interview questions?

Dan Metz is the Director of Executive Search and Employee Development at the Resilience Group, LLC, and Co-Founder and Contributing Author for Need a New Gig.  Follow his blog for more great tips like this!

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