Thursday, January 31, 2013

Questions and Answers for a Behavioral Interview

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Preparing for job interview questions is not as simplistic as you might think. More and more employers are looking to ditch the traditional interview questions for more open-ended, detailed ones. Behavioral questions are quickly becoming popular questions to ask during an interview. They are typically the most important and can often sabotage an interview if answered incorrectly. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, behavioral questions inquire about situations you have handled in the past. The potential employer is looking to find out if you are capable of dealing with the problems that may arise, should you be offered the position.

Traditionally, interviewers will ask you questions like, "How would you handle a customer if X happened?" or "How would you work to improve Y?" For these kinds of questions, it is quite easy to make up a story on the spot, as you have a good idea of what the "right" answers are. However, behavioral questions do not leave you any room for imagination and require you to contemplate past work experiences.
Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers
Most behavioral questions begin with, "Tell me about a time when" or "Give me an example of." When asked behavioral questions, consider your achievements, or a tough customer that you were able to turn around. Be sure to describe the problem, how you handled it, and what the results were.

Q: Give me an example of a time when you had to deal with an unruly customer.
A: I once dealt with a customer who was irate because another salesman treated her with disrespect. She had no interest in hearing about any of other products. (Situation)

I asked her to share her story with me and made note of her specific complaint. I then described to her how I, personally, would have handled her situation. After explaining how I could offer her much better services and relayed her some facts, she quickly changed her mind about dealing with the company.

(Action) As a result, she purchased even more merchandise than previously and referred her neighbor to me. She is now a routine customer.
(Result) The interviewee clearly stated the problem, how they handled it and what the result was. The situation served as both a challenge and an accomplishment. If the question is a little more vague, like "Give me an example of a challenge you had to face at your previous job," try to look for an example that is relevant to the position you are applying for.

While you can never be sure of what the interviewer is going to ask, it is a good idea to be prepared. Jot down some of the situations that would make good examples, and be sure to address those three key points - Situation, Action and Result. Behavioral questions are not as intimidating as some lead them to be. Even if you must do a little digging, you are sure to find a situation that can be used to answer appropriately. Remember, your past is a great predictor of your future, so choose your example wisely.

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