Friday, January 25, 2013

Understanding the Behavioral Interview

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A key component of the interview process for many companies is the Behavioral Interview. This interview is usually conducted by HR Professionals and sometimes a Hiring Manager. Behavioral interviews are designed to ask the candidate questions where the response should be how they handled a circumstance or situation. This questioning style helps the Interviewer understand how the candidate might respond to a similar situation if they were hired by the company.

There are many Behavioral Interview products used by companies with different names and acronyms but they are very similar. Most are designed to get you to describe a situation you were involved in and the activity or task that needed to be accomplished. Here the Interviewer is looking for you to be specific and not to speak in general terms about what you have done in the past. It is important in your response that you provide enough support information for the Interviewer to understand. When you respond it is OK to use examples from work, community involvement or whatever situation you feel would be relevant. For the "what you did" component you should describe the action you took and be sure to always remember the focus here is on what "you" did. This interview style is designed to understand the role "you" played so this would not be the place to talk about "team". This can be tricky because the question may be about your role as part of a team; but remember the Interviewer still wants to know what "you" did.

Why do companies use this interviewing style? The answers vary but Behavioral Interviews provide real life examples to give Interviewers an idea of how you will perform in the future. Your response gives them an idea of what you would or wouldn't do in a given situation. This opportunity to be expressive allows the candidate to become relaxed and share relevant information as opposed to the traditional closed end questioning techniques some Interviewers use.

Consider the following behavioral type of questions:
* Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were successful in achieving it?
* Describe a time when you were faced with a project deadline that demonstrated your coping skills?
* Describe a situation in which you were able to resolve a team problem which would demonstrate your conflict resolution skills?
* Give me an example of a time when you used good judgment in working with a customer?
Preparing for Behavioral Interviews require that candidates fully understand what is on their resume. This type of interview will require the candidate to respond pragmatically and not ramble when responding. It ultimately comes down to the candidate being able to highlight their strengths and accomplishments during this style of interview. Many companies are using Behavioral Interviews as part of the initial phone screen so understanding how it works is important.


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