By now most of us have either heard about or been subjected to a behavior based interview. For everyone else who may not have been exposed to this style of interviewing, let me explain. Behavior based interviewing is when the interviewer asks questions that seeks to find out how you have behaved in the past. The belief behind behavior based interviewing is that past performance will in most cases dictate future performance.
Questions of this nature have tripped up many interviewees because they have been ill prepared to provide answers that clearly demonstrate they have the past performance to make them viable candidates for the job. Often I have sat in on behavior based interviews and watched helplessly as a candidate whittled away any chance at moving forward in the hiring process.
Take it from me that with the proper preparation you can master the behavior based interview and stick out as a viable candidate.
Follow these steps to prepare for your next behavior based interview.
- Prior to the interview think through your work history and determine situations in which you did the following:
- Worked with a difficult person
- Overcame an obstacle
- Learned something new on the job
- Made a mistake on the job
- Had to deliver bad news
- Had to receive constructive feedback
- For each of situations above use the STAR method to explain the outcome. The STAR method is as follows:
- S – Describe the SITUATION
- T – Explain the TASK or what you were trying to accomplish
- A – Describe what ACTIONS you took to complete the task or overcome the challenge
- R – Describe your results. This is where you want to bring it back to what you learned, how you were able to successfully overcome the situation, etc.
- It’s important that you keep your answers detailed but concise. Adding too much information can leave too much room for interpretation of your actions. Too little information can leave the interviewer trying to piece together missing facts. That’s why it’s important to think through several examples before the interview. Once you get the formula down you can apply it to other questions that may come up during the interview.
- Take your time during the interview to gather your thoughts before you answer a question. It’s better to get your answer together by taking a short (and I do mean short) pause than to dive in and get tangled up in your response.
- Be truthful. If you haven’t had the experience that the questions asks you about, be honest about it and explain how you have avoided that situation or what you would do if you are ever in that situation. Trying to make up answers to situations you haven’t been in is only going to backfire.