The Behavioral Interview Part I

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.

While some employers conduct strictly behavioral interviews, others will mix traditional and behavioral questions to make more of a balanced interview experience. Where traditional interview questions revolve around Tell me about yourselfList 3 strengths, and Explain why you want to work here, the behavioral interview is focused on determining whether or not you have the predetermined skill sets required for a particular position.

From decision making to problem solving, leadership, communication, critical thinking and the ability to influence others, companies want to determine skill sets by doing a detailed analysis of the position they are seeking to fill.

Prepare for the behavioral interview or behavioral questions by developing detailed and specific stories that illustrate your past performance. The best way to accomplish this is to use the three-step STAR process, which includes Situation/Task, Action, Result.

Let’s look at a few STAR examples:

“When I was leading a project for Company X I noticed that communication was breaking down and tasks and activities were getting siloed. Rather than trying to force better communication in meetings, I introduced informal lunch meetings. The lunches allowed for more organic conversations which grew camaraderie and more natural interactions. This improved communication and project members began to share information and work better together.”

“Corporate had adopted a new policy that I had to roll out in my group, and I knew it wouldn’t be popular. I had a little room in my budget so I treated the group to an impromptu catered happy hour. I wanted them to know they were needed and appreciated. This set the stage for my following week’s roll out, which was surprisingly uneventful and accepted across the board. I decided to continue with the random catered affair from time to time, which doesn’t cost a lot but goes a very long way to building morale.”  

Practice your STAR statements so you nail down which details to include and what to skip. Those regrettable rambling tangents usually result from a lack of preparation. Many STAR statements can be easily adapted to different questions, so the better you know your own stories the more adept you will be at adaptation.   

Stayed tuned for Part II, where we look at common and more difficult-to-answer behavioral questions, as well as questions you might ask in the interview as a part of your analysis.

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