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The Behavioral Interview

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The Behavioral Interview - lady interviewing in front of two interviewers

If you’ve ever had a job interview before, there’s a good chance that at least one of the questions was behavioral based. Even without you even realizing it. These types of questions are extremely common nowadays in interviews, with some entire interview processes consisting of only behavioral questions. In this article we explore the behavioral interview.

But, what exactly is a behavioral interview and how does it give employers the information they need?

What Is A Behavioral Interview?

The behavioral interview focuses on questions that hope to get an indication of your response or action in a previous situation. By telling the hiring manager exactly how you reacted to a particular problem or situation, this gives them a good understanding of how they can expect you to act in the future.

Woman on a job interview.

The behavioral interview focuses less on the skills or experience one might have. Instead rather how they operate at work and what they find important in problem-solving or finding solutions for common workplace issues.

Usually, the interview will direct these behavioral questions towards things that might happen in the company you’re interviewing for. This is so they can get a more specific look at the type of worker you are.

Although the behavioral interview is a common method these days, there are some career experts who question its validity. Behavioral interview questions tells you a scenario and then asks you how you overcame it. Due to this, the answer is usually right there in the question. This then can lead to a number of sugar-coated or untruthful responses.

Some recruiters will try to overcome this problem by posing the question in a different way. The goal here is that doesn’t give away the answer.

Rather than asking “Tell me about a time when you let a customer down and how you fixed it for them” you could instead say “tell me about a time when you let a customer down.” This should prompt them to give you a more honest answer about the steps they took, if any, to rectify the situation.

What Are The Common Behavioral Interview Questions?

There’s really no limit to the types of behavioral questions you might be asked in an interview. These questions are used for almost all types of positions and industries. Here are a few common questions you might hear so that you can plan some educated and thoughtful answers before your next interview.

How Do You Handle A Challenge?

This question is to see how well you work under pressure and if you have gained any tools or skills that can help you overcome a challenge. The correct answer is to show a time where you might have overcome a particularly tough time at work. Whether it was with a customer, a new software program, or a part of your job that you learned to love.

Give An Example Of A Goal You Set For Yourself And How You Achieved It

This doesn’t always have to be aimed specifically at your career. In particular if you’ve achieved something worth mentioning outside of work.

For example, if you’ve juggled a degree while working a part-time job then this is a great goal to have.

Those who competed in a marathon might use this as an example to show that they’re motivated and willing to put in the hard work to reach a personal or professional goal.

My Goals Checklist

Give An Example Of How You Work Within A Team

This question can be hard to answer. Why? it’s sometimes difficult for us to see ourselves through the eyes of others. In this instance, try to list the positives that you bring to a teamwork setting. Don’t be afraid to even mention other areas where you find help and strength from others.

Tell Me About A Time Where You Made A Decision That Wasn’t Popular And How You Handled It

If you get this question in an interview it may catch you off guard. Why? it’s hard to not paint yourself in a bad light. Your response to this question can show the interviewer that you’re able to make decisions that have the interest of the organization at heart but also that you can be sympathetic to others and come up with a resolution that works for all.

Have You Had To Handle A Difficult Situation At Work? How Did You Do It?

Nobody likes to recall bad times that they’ve had at work, especially to a potential employer. However, your honesty during this question can be a great asset. If asked this question, always be sure that the answer you give ends with a positive outcome. Show that you took initiative to solve the problem rather than just ignore it.

Why Is The Behavioral Interview So Popular?

Rather than ask questions based on your skills and experience, these give the interviewer a greater insight into your personality. And importantly, how you handle yourself at work. Think of your resume as the place to list all of the facts about your previous careers and the hard skills you have. This interview then as the time to share your soft skills and personal attributes.

Although it is possible to give a false answer to the behavioral question, it’s one that can be easily spotted if you exaggerate too much.

Young girl on a job interview.

The best way to answer them is with honesty, and if you truly can’t recall a time that you did anything like what they asked then it’s best to let them know and explain how you handled a similar situation or how you would specifically handle that should it occur.

The key to a good job interview is to be prepared.  However, not so much so that it seems as if every answer you give is rehearsed. Have a few key examples in mind about times you excelled or struggled at work. You’ll find invariably that they get bought up in a job interview that focuses on behavioral questions.

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