Employment interviews are changing for the better. The traditional interview questions that deal with simpler things like, “Tell me about yourself,” are no longer enough to satisfy the appetite of organizations seeking new employees. They realize more than ever before that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation. Behavioral questions provide a more objective set of facts to make employment decisions than other interviewing methods; the process is much more probing and works very differently.
Important Points About Behavioral Interviewing:
- Employers have a predetermined skill set that they feel is necessary for the job they hope to fill and ask direct questions to assess if a candidate possesses those skills. Talk with alumni, read the company literature carefully, and pay attention during a company’s information session to discover which skills the employer is seeking.
Your response needs to be specified and detailed during the interview. Don’t give one-word descriptive responses like, “my organizational skills worked well in that situation.” Instead, describe a particular situation that relates to the question. For example, “I found the solution because I input all available information into my Palm Pilot and sync that information to my computer hourly to ensure no information is lost.” Briefly explain the situation, your specific action taken, and the positive result of that action. Frame it in a three step process: 1. Situation, 2. Action, 3. Result/Outcome.
- After the interviewee explains a situation for a few minutes, the interviewer will try to identify the specific behavior(s) by breaking down the situation. The interviewer’s probing process often includes a search for more detail and depth; “What were your questions at that point?” or “Tell me more about the person’s response,” or “Tell me about your decision process.”
- Be sure to listen intently and always answer your questions completely; ask for clarification if necessary.
- Your interview preparation should include identifying examples of situations where you have demonstrated the behaviors for a given company.
- The more detailed and clear your resume, the better it will be in assisting you in answering these questions. Remind yourself about your achievements from the past two or three years and remember that there are many ways to demonstrate the behaviors that the interviewer is seeking. Use examples from past internships, classes, activities, team involvements, community service and work experience. You may also use examples of your special accomplishments like achieving your exercise goals, being the captain of of your high school sports team, artistic achievements, overcoming your fear of heights by sky diving, etc..