Behavioral Interviewing

February 2013

Behavioral Interviewing is relatively new style of interviewing that was developed in the 1970’s by industrial psychologists. Behavioral interviewing asserts that “the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation.”

Currently, 30% of all organizations are using behavioral interviewing to some degree. Unlike traditional interviews, which include such questions as “tell me about yourself,” “what are you strengths and weaknesses?” and “why are you interested in working for us?” behavioral interviewing emphasizes past performances and behaviors. As a consequence, candidates who are unprepared for the rigor of behavioral interviewing have not fared well.

How do I prepare for a behavioral interview?

Companies that employ behavioral interviewing have predetermined the skill sets they require for a particular position. These skills sets could include decision making and problem solving, leadership, motivation, communication, interpersonal skills, planning and organization, critical thinking skills, team building and the ability to influence others. The company determines the skill sets by doing a detailed analysis of the position they are seeking to fill. Job seekers also must go through this same process.

To conduct a job analysis the job seeker should ask questions such as:
  1. What are the necessary skills to do this job?
  2. What makes a successful candidate?
  3. What would make an unsuccessful candidate?
  4. Why have people left this position previously?
  5. What is the most difficult part of this job?
Once you have landed the interview, keep in mind the following points: Be detailed and specific. The best way to accomplish this is to use the 3-step STAR process:
  1. Situation or Task
  2. Action
  3. Result or outcome

For example, you might recount a time when communication within your work group had broken down (situation). To resolve the problem, you organized informal lunch meetings for people to discuss relevant issues (action). Morale then improved, as did the lines of communication (result). Using this three step STAR process is a powerful way for you to frame your experiences and accomplishments for the interviewer.

Other Tips
  • Limit rambling and going on tangents. While you can’t control what is asked, you can control what you say.
  • Listen carefully to each question. If you are unsure, rephrase the question and ask for clarification. When you respond, be sure to recall your past accomplishments in detail.
  • Practice your behavior stories using real-life examples. It is difficult to make up behavioral stories, which is why behavioral interviewing is becoming more popular. By practicing, you will be able to recall with confidence your past accomplishments.

 

Sample Behavioral Interview Questions

 
Decision Making and Problem Solving
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to keep from speaking or making a decision because you did not have enough information.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision.
Leadership
  • What is the toughest group that you have had to get cooperation from?
  • Have you ever had difficulty getting others to accept your ideas? What was your approach? Did it work?
  • What is an obstacle you have overcome? What was the situation before/during/after?
Motivation
  • Give me an example of a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty.
  • Describe a situation when you were able to have a positive influence on the action of others.
Communication
  • Tell me about a situation when you had to speak up (be assertive) in order to get a point across that was important to you.
  • Have you ever had to “sell” an idea to your co-workers or group? How did you do it? Did they “buy” it?
Interpersonal Skills
  • What have you done in the past to contribute toward a teamwork environment?
  • Describe a recent unpopular decision you made and what the result was.
  • What has been one of your greatest career achievements? How did that save the company time or money?
Planning and Organization
  • How do you decide what gets top priority when scheduling your time?
  • What do you do when your schedule is suddenly interrupted? Give an example.

 

Next Steps
While a lot more goes into being accepted into your dream position, we hope the above tips will help you make a great impression at the interview. If you have any questions on your particular situation and how you can best position yourself, feel free to call us or email us through our website at www.addisongroup.com. We look forward to working with you on your job search!