Interview Prep: How To Prepare For A Behavioral Interview
We have all been on an interview and many of us in our careers have been charged with interviewing for open positions. Whether you are a NYC jobseeker or located anywhere around the globe, a hiring manager or a recruiter, you have likely experienced “a behavioral interview” in the last decade. Most interviewees and interviewers are familiar with competency based interviewing in which there are questions asked in order to complete “skill-matching,” i.e., what skills, experience and know-how do you possess that is a match for the job opening. In brief, are you qualified to do the job beyond what your resume states in black and white.
However, the format of the competency based interview has morphed and changed over the years to contain fewer leading questions and frankly, fewer fluff inquiries that do not get at the heart of one’s skill and certainly do not tell an interviewer much about your soft skills, attitude, mental models, character and the like. The days of the “who, what, where, when and why” question format are long gone. Interview questions that were well formulated, but do not have the greatest chance to elicit honest responses are now reserved for junior recruiters learning the ropes, or underqualified hiring managers who lack the knowledge and skill to conduct a behavioral interview.
What is a behavioral interview?
In one sentence, I will tell you and then you can decide if you wish to read the remainder of this article to add more flavor to my one-liner: A behavioral interview has a quintessential question formatted as “tell me about a time when…” and is meant to be answered with your honest, demonstrated, real-life, real-work examples.
Interview Prep For Candidates:
You will want to practice answering questions in this manner, using the STAR technique. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result(s). You want to demonstrate by telling about a time when “XYZ” happened by relaying a true event that fits the interviewer’s question by starting with the situation; be brief.
Then move on to sharing the task(s) that were accomplished, the actions that you and/or your team took, and the result. Take a moment before answering, as I have experienced many jobseekers that nail the “S” and the “T,” and for the “A” they convey a deeply self-centered explanation. The kind of explanation that raises a red flag. The red flag is that I know it was impossible that they achieved the results they claim without the aid of anyone else. However, there is no mention of resources whether people or otherwise. So, be sure to give credit where credit is due.
Also, the “R” causes painful hiccups for many interviewees who do not take a moment to consider their conveyance before sharing it. What if the interviewee were to nail the “STA” only to convey an unfavorable result? Well, there are several ways to look at this from an interviewer’s perspective. “At least they are honest,” might be one perspective. However, if the results you conveyed were an example of your bombing terribly at an essential key performance indicator for the role you are interviewing, then your being honest is great for getting into the ethical society of your choosing, but is not going to get you the job! Yikes!
Prep for these interview questions by reviewing the job description and thinking about what questions you might ask to elicit the qualifications – hard and soft skills needed for the role. Frame these interview questions in the quintessential format and practice your responses using the STAR technique. You will be well prepared to ace that behavioral interview! Whew!
Part II of this series on behavioral interviewing will share pointers and tips for interviewers (recruiting agencies and hiring managers) to use to perfect the behavioral interview and receive honest responses from candidates, even the ones who have prepared their “candid” responses. Be sure to check back soon to read that article.