Behavioral Interview Questions: How to Ace Them

Behavioral Interview Questions

A resume can tell an interviewer about your experience, certifications, and skills. However, behavioral interview questions help a company learn how knowledge and skills have been applied in the past, to predict how you might react in a challenging situation in the future.

Behavioral interview questions are inquiries into how you may react or behave in challenging work situations. These questions are used by prospective employers during the interview process to gain a deeper understanding of a candidate’s work personality and how they’d fit into the organization.

The most commonly asked behavioral interview questions may include:

  • Describe a stressful situation at work and how you handled it.

  • Give an example of a goal you reached, and how you reached it.

  • Have you had a difficult situation with a supervisor? How did you handle it?

  • Tell me about a time you made an unpopular decision, and how you implemented it.

These questions present a difficult situation for a candidate. Obviously, you want to present yourself in the best light in an interview. But often, a behavioral interview question asks about a problematic experience in your past work life.

In order to ace behavioral interview questions, follow these five best practices.

1. Do Your Homework

You can get a good idea of important behavioral characteristics for the open position from the job description, the company website, and from any job boards, current and former employee reviews, and other online and real-life sources.

For example, a job posting for an accounting manager may include “supervisory skills” or “team leadership.” Considering that behavioral interviews can lead into problematic areas, prepare for an interviewer to ask questions about difficulties you’ve had managing staff, or situations where you’ve been part of a team.

2. Write Your Stories

Prepare yourself for behavioral interview questions ahead of time – and go over these stories out loud, and in detail. Practice. You may not know exactly which job interview questions will be asked, but gathering some ideas ahead of time will help you to remain calm and appear organized and measured.

A single story may be adapted to answer different types of behavioral interview questions, so have that story outlined, detailed, and practiced prior to the interview.

If you ran a marathon, the story of that accomplishment can be tailored to answer questions such as, “Give me an example of a goal you reached and how,” “Describe a challenging situation you faced in the past,” or “Share a rewarding team experience.”

Learn more: How to Master a Behavioral Interview

3. List Your Skills

Again, reviewing the job description and company brand will give you an idea of what attributes are important to the company and the position. List the skills that you have that match the job description or company branding information. After you’ve considered how those required skills line up to your previous experiences, select the stories you would tell in a behavioral interview to highlight those skills or competencies.

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4. Practice The STAR Method

Many recruiters recommend that candidates follow the STAR method to answer a behavioral interview question. STAR stands for: 

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

Following the STAR method, first, you would describe the situation you encountered, the task or goal that you needed to reach, the action that was taken, and the result of that action.

This is a succinct way to detail your skills and experience while also highlighting how you analyze a situation and execute a plan based on the circumstances of the specific situation.

5. Accentuate The Positive

The toughest interview questions require a candidate to show themselves in a less-than-optimal light. However, even if you must talk about a time when you made a mistake or an error in judgment, there is still an opportunity to show how you’ve learned or grown from a negative experience. Use examples that detail how you were able to take the lessons learned from the previous negative experience and then detail how you pivoted from that negative experience to a positive one that the prospective employer can benefit from.

Behavioral interview questions can be tricky to handle, particularly if a candidate is unprepared. However, with a bit of advance effort and preparation, you can not only ace a behavioral interview, but you can also build a repository of honest examples of past work history that highlights your skills and experience. Those examples can benefit you in future interviews, networking and industry events, and be one step closer to achieving the career you’ve always wanted.

While interviews can be tough, candidates often finding sifting through millions of online job postings to find positions to apply to be the most challenging part of the job search. Partnering with a staffing and recruiting firm, like Sparks Group, can help streamline your job search by matching you with an employer that fits your skills and experience. At Sparks Group, we take the time to understand your expertise and career goals to place you in a position that will take your career to the next level.

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Written by Sparks Group

Sparks Group

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