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Acing the Behavioral Interview

Are you ready for a college recruiter who asks you, "Tell me how you dealt with a situation where you were working with a team and one of the members wasn't contributing as expected."  This is an example of a behavioral interview question, and this type of question is becoming more popular with college recruiters. Behavioral interviews are based on the premise that the best way to predict future on-the-job behavior is to review past behavior in similar situations.
 
How to Prepare for the Behavioral Interview
The first thing you do for any job interview is research. To be successful, you need to understand the job description, what knowledge, skills and abilities are required or desirable, where the job fits into the company's organizational plan,  the company goals, an how the employer measures success. This isn't all you need to know, but these are the main points in preparing for a behavioral interview.  Review Researching the Company for a complete list of things you need to know.
 
Katherine Hansen writing for Quintessential Careers offers the following list of behaviors that employers will try to determine through behavioral interview questions. Not all of these behaviors are important for a particular job which is why you need to understand the description of the job for which you are applying.
 
Behaviors Employers Evaluate
Adaptability
Communication-Oral
Communication-Written
Analysis
Attention to Detail
Decisiveness
Delegation
Staff Development
Energy
Entrepreneurial
Insight
Fact Finding
Financial Analytical
Flexibility
Impact
Initiative
Innovation
Integrity
Judgment
Leadership/Influence
Listening
Motivation
Negotiation
Organizational
Participative
Sensitivity
Management
Planning
Organizing
Practical LearningPresentation SkillsRapport Building
Resilience
Risk Taking
Safety Awareness
Sales Ability /Persuasiveness
Sensitivity
Strategic Analysis
Teamwork
Technical/Professional  Knowledge
Technical/Professional  Proficiency
Tenacity
Training
Work Standards
 
After reviewing the job description and the list of behaviors, review your own experience to determine when you exhibited these behaviors. Your experience can include social and school situations as well as on-the-job situations. Once you have done that, you need to prepare a response that is specific and detailed. You should describe the situation or task, what specific action you took to address it, and what the result was. This is usually called a STAR statement:
Situation or
Task
Describe the situation you were in or the task you needed to accomplish. Be specific and provide sufficient detail. Think of it as telling a story that has a beginning, middle, and ending.
Action Describe the action you took and keep the focus on what you did, even if it was a team experience.
Results What happened? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Even if you feel you did not handle the situation as well as you could have, telling what you learned  and showing how you applied that learning in another situation will work also.
A STAR response to the question posed at the beginning of this page might go like this:
 
Situation or Task: "I was assigned to a team in my marketing class to propose a method for increasing revenues for a particular business by 10%. One of the members of my team wasn't attending many meetings and didn't have his assignments prepared."
 
Action: "I decided to talk to talk to the team leader first to see if she had already talked to the person or if she was planning to talk to him. She hadn't talked to him yet, but wanted some input on how to handle the situation. I told her that I would meet with him; in private, talk about how the group needed every member to complete their assigned tasks, and ask what he needed to get back on track. After she talked to him, she reported to the group that he was having trouble with one of his other classes and it took up most of his time. We talked about it as a team and decided to recommend he ask the Student Learning Center for help on his other class, and we would help him get caught up with our team project."
 
Result: "It took a couple of weeks for him to catch up, but after he did, he completed his assignments on time and our group got an A on project. He also thanked the group during his part of the presentation for helping him do well in both of  his classes."
 
Review the sample behavioral interview questions provided through the link below and identify six to eight that demonstrate the behaviors and skills required for position you are seeking. Think in terms of examples that demonstrate your top strengths. Prepare a STAR statement for each using the most recent examples you can. Remember, all the examples should end positively, either because of the action, the result,  or what you learned.

Next: Reviewing the most Common Interview Questions

More: What is Behavioral Interviewing - Behavior Based Interviewing


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