7 Tips to Answering Behavioral Interview Questions

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7 Tips to Answering Behavioral Interview Questions

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Heading off to a job interview is always a bit nerve racking, but heading into the interview with confidence can set you in the right direction. Behavioral interview questions are meant to help explain your character to the interviewee.

Here are a few tips, from our college recruiting team, to help you ace the behavioral interview questions:

1. Always Prepare

It doesn’t matter if you think this will be the easiest interview of your life or the hardest, there is always time and room to prepare. This step doesn’t need to take long, but it will be significant towards your confidence when you walk into the interview. Practice by saying your responses out loud to questions you’ve been asked in previous interviews. Such questions usually start with “Explain a time when you…” or “Give an example of…”.  Knowing examples ahead of time to answer these questions honestly and professionally will enhance your interview answers.

2. Give Yourself a Breather

This goes for any interview and is something extremely easy to do prior to an interview. Always come at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled interview time. This gives you time to relax and store up your confidence. Power poses are especially important during the waiting time. A simple power pose with your legs together but uncrossed, arms resting with your palms facing upwards can psychologically prepare your body for the interview. Confidence in yourself leads to better behavioral interview answers.

3. Be Specific

This is a tricky one to tackle, but when you’re preparing you’ll want to think about ways to be specific without telling a 10 minute story. The key here is to make sure you are giving a brief background on the story, followed by specific details of how you solved the problem. The person/people interviewing you want to know how you solved the problem rather than your background. To prepare a more structured response, I recommend you use the STAR method. This one is tricky because though you want to give context, you don’t want to sound like you memorized answers.

4. Use the STAR method

Situation: Give context to your story (who, what, where, when, why, how)
Tasks: What was your role in this situation? What needed to be completed? What other factors could have altered the outcome? What considerations were made for this particular situation?
Action: What specific role did you play in the outcome and how did you take action to correct the situation? Explain why you took that action.
Result: How did this solution play out? Were all issues resolved?

5. Emphasize Your Qualities

Behavioral interview questions are aiming at your qualities when dealing with specific situations. These qualities tell the company if you’re a good fit for the role. You know your qualities best so give examples that portray the qualities most valuable to the position you’re interviewing for. Particularly if you have a quality you feel sets you apart from any other candidate, that’s what you’ll want to emphasize when you give your situational examples.  

6. Expect Follow-Up Questions

There may be follow-up questions from your response. This is not to say you answered the question wrong, but possibly that you answered it well and the interviewer is trying to grasp the details of the situation better. Provide them with a moral to the story. This is also a great time to emphasize the qualities that make you great.

7. Be Honest

This may be the most obvious tip, but it’s most important to respond truthfully to any behavioral or follow-up questions. You may be asked how you felt in the situation and you don’t want to exaggerate the results or lessen the way you felt. Be honest but focus on the positive.

The best thing you can do for yourself is act confident. Show your enthusiasm for the position and explain through behavioral questions why you are the best fit. Find a career that fits you best. Good luck!

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