Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Acing the Behavioral Interview

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Ok, first you may want to ask yourself, exactly what is a Behavioral Interview?
A behavioral interview is when the interviewer takes various scenarios that could happen in the workplace, and formulate them into questions to try and get feel of what you would do in similar cases. These types of interviews can seem tough because you may get the feeling that the interviewer is seeking a specific answer. In some cases, this may be. If you are asked how you prioritize your work when there are deadlines and you answer that you would seek out assistance from co workers, that may not be what her or she wants to hear. The company may be one that is always handling time sensitive projects and may not have the extra man power to always assist an employee who is not completely caught up with work assignments. In this case, an answer of how you work quickly and diligently with deadlines may be better. The employer may prefer to hear that you are organized and work on the most urgent projects first.

So, the best way to prepare for a behavioral interview is to take the time to assess how you work. Think about how you get along with coworkers and your bosses. Write down those important projects that you tackled alone and the projects that you worked on with a team. Gather as much information about the previous jobs, or present job that you have now and focus on what you actually did and contributed to the company. Once you've done that try and answer the next two questions:

1. Describe a situation when you had to motivate yourself to complete and assignment or task that you did not want to do.

2. Tell me about a challenge that you successfully met.
Now while you answer these, look back at what you wrote about some of the projects that you had to do on your previous job. See if anything fits. Be careful with questions that use the phrases did not like, or as in question number one, did not want to do. You never want to openly express that you didn't like something or someone at your previous job. You can express how challenging it may have been to do a specific task, but always try to follow a difficult challenge with a positive outcome. For example:

"At my last job we had orientations every Monday of about 50 new hires. I was responsible for getting all of the paperwork in at the end of the day so the employees were able to receive their first paycheck by that Friday. I wouldn't say that I didn't want to do the job, however, it was challenging for me to handle at first because our orientations were normally much smaller. I suggested to my boss that maybe the process would go smoother if I were able to gather information about the new hires on the week before orientations instead of the day of. This worked great, and now getting the paperwork in on time flows better than ever."

Now you may have disliked having to input all of the paperwork every Monday. It may have been a very difficult and time consuming task. However, in the statement above, if this were a real interview, the applicant has not only answered the interviewer, but given an example of how the problem was fixed by showing initiative, and also showing dedication to get a job done no matter what. Remember that in a behavioral interview there isn't a right or wrong answer. The interviewer is attempting to "see" the type of work you do and base that vision on if you would work well with the company.

When practicing with answering questions for a behavioral interview keep these steps in mind:
Think about what the interviewer is asking and try to match a previous situation to the question. Keep in mind that when preparing, of course you won't know exactly what the interviewer is going to ask, but think about the type of job you are interviewing for. Describe what you did to solve the problem, make sure the employer knows the efforts you took, and what you personally did to simplify the situation. You want to describe in full detail, the results of the situation and how the outcome ended.

You can go on most job search websites and find examples of behavioral interview questions. Jot down a few, and practice how you would answer! Incorporate what you've done on previous jobs into awesome behavioral interview answers!


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