Friday, December 3, 2010
Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers - Tips and Advice
By Damen Choy
Behavioral interviews are becoming more and more popular in this highly competitive job market. The main reason that employers like the behavioral interview is that it can predict the future actions of candidates quite accurately. What do we mean by this?
Traditional interview questions - the ones you may be more used to - typically call for highly objective answers and can be based on misperceptions. For instance, how you answer the question, "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" is based on your own perception of yourself. Since the employer does not yet know you, he or she cannot judge the accuracy of your answers.
However, behavioral interview questions provide the interviewer with much greater insight into how your mind works. As the name implies, behavioral questions focus on just that: your actual behavior - and not your perceptions. In this type of interview, the interviewer has targeted several specific behaviors and attitudes that the job requires, and has designed behavioral interview questions that will shed light on whether you might be a good fit for the position.
Behavioral questions examples
Here are some typical interview behavioral questions:
*Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision without sufficient information. How did the situation work out?
*Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone who did not like you. How did you deal with the situation? What was the outcome?
*Describe a decision you made that was unpopular. Why did you make the decision? How did you sell your decision? What was the outcome?
*If you are given an assignment that you don't know how to handle, what would you do?
*What would you do if a customer complains about you to your boss?
*Tell me about a time when someone's interruptions were in danger of causing you to miss a deadline. What did you do?
Notice how much more specific and detailed this type of question is than traditional, straightforward interview questions. The idea behind the success of behavioral questions & answers is that a person's past performance is a good indicator of his or her future performance.
Navigating behavioral questions & answers
While answering this type of question may seem more difficult than traditional questions, actually, with a little practice, you may find that the answers come more naturally since you're simply recalling your past experiences. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind for answering behavioral questions in a way that will help your interviewer the most:
*Always relate the question to a specific instance in your career.
*Describe the tasks that were related to the instance. What was the expected outcome?
*Describe your actions in relation to the task or instance. What did you do? Why did you decide to do it?
*Always describe the actual outcome of your actions, even if it wasn't favorable. What did you learn from the experience? What might you do differently if faced with a similar situation?
In answering interview behavioral questions this thoroughly, you show that you understand what the interviewer is looking for and that you're willing to offer up the information to help them make the best decision.
*Remember, there are no right or wrong answers. Just answer the question as honestly as you can, while focusing on describing your actions during the situation.
*Don't feel attacked by the interviewer's follow up questions, which may feel very probing. The interviewer is simply trying to understand how and why you've acted in situations he or she believes related to the job, and is not personally attacking you.
*Relax and take a deep breath before answering. It's ok to take a few minutes to think of your answer.
*If you're describing a stressful situation, avoid the temptation to get upset all over again. Detach yourself from the emotions of the situation, and describe the details as factually as possible.
*Smile! Speak smoothly and confidently.
With some practice and preparation, you'll find that you can handle the more difficult behavioral interview questions successfully and with confidence.
Damen Choy Author and Editor http://InstantCareerAdvice.com a career advice website providing free ebooks, articles and software for career advancement, job interviews and resume writing advice. Damen has also written a book about job interview available at Amazon.com. Access the ebook version here at http://www.a-better-job-interview.com
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