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Career Exploration & Development: 9 Tips for Answering Behavioral Interview Questions

Interviews are always a bit nerve-racking, but heading into the interview with confidence can set you in the right direction. Behavioral interview questions are meant to help explain your character to the interviewer. Here are a 9 tips to help you ace the behavioral interview questions and get you the job you deserve.

An example of a behavioral interview question is, “Tell me about a time you worked effectively under pressure.” and “How did you handle a difficult challenge at work?”

Always Prepare

It doesn’t matter if you think this will be the easiest interview of your life, or the hardest. There is always time and room to prepare. This step doesn’t need to take long, but it will be significant towards boosting your confidence when you walk into the interview. Practice by saying your responses out loud to questions you’ve been asked in previous interviews. Such questions usually start with “Explain a time when you…” or “Give an example of…”. Knowing examples ahead of time to answer these questions honestly and professionally will enhance your interview answers.

Show You Are Confident

This goes for any interview, and is something extremely easy to do. Arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled interview time. This gives you time to relax, and store up your confidence. Power poses are especially important during the waiting time. A simple seated position with your legs together but uncrossed, arms resting with your palms facing upwards, can prepare your body psychologically for the interview. How you look and speak, how you carry yourself, and how you greet the interviewer, are all clear clues of your level of self- confidence.

Be Specific

This one can be tricky because though you want to give context, you don’t want to sound like you memorized answers. When you’re preparing, think about ways to be specific without telling a 10 minute story. The key here is to make sure you are giving a brief background on the story, followed by specific details of how you solved the problem. The person/people interviewing you want to know how you solved the problem rather than your background. To prepare a more structured response, use the STAR method described below.

Use the STAR method

The STAR method is an interview technique that gives you a straightforward format you use to tell a story. You will use the layout of Situation, Task, Action, and Results. Using the STAR method will allow you to share a focused answer that clearly describes how successful you were at accomplishing a goal at a job

Situation: Give context to your story (who, what, where, when, why, how)

Tasks: What was your role in this situation? What needed to be completed? What other factors could have altered the outcome? What considerations were made for this particular situation?

Action: What specific role did you play in the outcome and how did you take action to correct the situation? Explain why you took that action.

Result: How did this solution play out? Were all issues resolved?

Emphasize Your Qualities

Behavioral interview questions aim to identify your strengths and traits when dealing with specific situations. These characteristics tell the company if you’re a good fit for the role. You know your qualities best so give examples that demonstrate that you possess the skills and behavior characteristics desired for the role you’re interviewing for. If you have a quality you feel sets you apart from any other candidate, emphasize that strength when giving examples. This helps the interviewee to better understand the position you’re applying for and to help determine how your qualities fit within the organization’s culture.

Expect Follow-Up Questions

There may be follow-up questions from your response. This is not to say you answered the question wrong, but possibly that you answered it well and the interviewer is trying to grasp the details of the situation better. This is also a great time to emphasize the qualities that make you a great fit for the role.

Do a post-interview analysis by writing down any questions you feel you did not fully or adequately explain. Send a follow-up email, with your thank you email, that provides a better narrative of any questions you feel need further explanation.

Be Honest

This may be the most obvious tip, but it’s most important to respond truthfully to any behavioral or follow-up questions. You may be asked how you felt in the situation and you don’t want to exaggerate the results or lessen the way you felt. Be honest but focus on the positive. The best thing you can do for yourself is to prepare and be confident. Show your enthusiasm for the position and explain through behavioral questions why you are the best fit. Good luck!

Practice and prepare to avoid allowing your nerves to get in the way

Clients have shared that during their last couple interviews of being so super nervous and not sure how if came across during the interview.  They were never so nervous in the past and it was difficult to feel confident with my skill set.  Practicing is a an excellent way to avoid your nerves.

This can be done in front of a mirror, with a friend or family member, or a colleague. In fact, it is a good idea to hire a professional who can provide you with unbiased feedback. It can be difficult to tell someone you love some areas they need improvement in.

Prepare to be able to share personal experiences

Even if the question doesn’t focus on a specific example, sharing your personal experiences is always optimal. Find a way to connect the question to a specific example. For example, if they ask about a time you dealt with a difficult customer, state, “When I worked at Company B, there was a time when a customer came in with XYZ situation. She was very irate about 123. I was able to help her and in the end, I was able to solve her problems.”

Bonus: Prepare for video interviews

With many people, especially in professional work environments, working from home, a video interview is almost standard in COVID-19. Some suggestions to prepare for video interviews include

  • Deciding on what to wear: Professional attire for men and women is absolutely necessary. Wear professional attire not just from the waist up. It will help you feel confident and avoid any snafu if your camera happens to move.
  • Make sure to smile and be approachable.
  • Control nervous or fidgeting behavior. One of the common things I find people do is rocking back and forth in their chair
  • Check internet and bandwidth. While most wi-fi is sufficient to conduct an interview, consider using an Ethernet to do a direct connection instead. It is often faster and more stable than Wi-Fi.
  • Choose a neutral background. If you don’t have a neutral background, remove any excess clutter that could be distracting.
  • Complete the interview in a quiet place. Turn off your phone, put the pets away, and ask family to give you the time you need to make a great first impression.
  • Login at least 15 minutes before the interview. This will help you position your camera to an optimal position. It will also help avoid delays due to technical problems.

Overall, an interview should be a time for you to shine. Preparing and reflecting before your interview will increase your chances of success.

31 Common behavioral interview questions

Here is a list of common behavioral interview questions you may be asked. Practice using 5 of these to prepare for your next interview.

  • Tell me about a time you worked effectively under pressure.
  • Describe a long-term project you managed. How did you make sure everything was running smoothly?
  • How did you handle a difficult challenge at work?
  • Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?
  • Give an example of how you set goals.
  • What would you do if you misunderstood an important task on the job? Give me an example.
  • Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone completely different from you. How did you adapt to collaborate better?
  • Describe a decision you made that wasn’t popular, and explain how you handled implementing it.
  • Can you tell me about a time you gave a presentation that was particularly successful? Why do you think it went well?
  • Give an example of how you worked on a team.
  • What do you do if you disagree with someone at work? 
  • What do you do when your team member refuses to, or just can’t complete their part of the work? Give me an example.
  • Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers. 
  • What makes an ideal coworker?
  • How do you handle your schedule when it’s interrupted?
  • Tell me about a time when you successfully delegated tasks to your team. 
  • Have you worked on multiple projects? How did you prioritize competing tasks?
  • Clients can be difficult to work with sometimes. Can you describe a situation when a client was wrong and you had to correct them?
  • How do you handle meeting tight deadlines?
  • How do you handle it when your schedule is interrupted?
  • How do you handle irate customers? Give me an example.
  • What do you do if you disagree with a co-worker? What if you disagree with your boss?
  • How have you handled setbacks at work?
  • Tell me about your first job in the industry. What did you do to learn the ropes?
  • How do you handle it when there’s a conflict among team members?
  • We all make mistakes sometimes we wish we could take back. Is there a time that comes to mind where you wish you had handled a situation with a client or colleague differently?
  • What is your most career important accomplishment? Why?
  • Tell me about some regrets in your previous job?
  • Can you give me an example of when you had to adapt to a new and sudden change in the workplace? What happened?
  • Tell me about a time when you set a personal goal for yourself. What did you do to ensure you would meet your objectives?

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Erik

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