Monday, November 17, 2014

For job interviews, prepare a few stories to tell (behavioral interviewing)

Behavioral Interviewing is a popular technique currently used by many employers in job interviews. Behavioral interviewing is just a fancy term for asking a candidate to tell a story, and the request often begins with the words, “tell me about a time when…. 

For example, Tell me about a time when you knew that you and your team discovered that you would not be able to meet a deadline. Explain how you handled it and what happened. As another example, Tell me about a time when a conflict between two of your teammates interfered with the work that needed to be done. How was the situation handled? What was your role? What happened?

These types of questions can address something that actually happened, or they can ask what you would do in an imaginary, hypothetical situation. For example, Let’s say that there is a conflict between two of your teammates that was interfering with the work that needed to be done. How would you handle that? For hypothetical situations, create your answers based on your actual experiences.

The standard advice that I give to my Life & Career Coaching clients is to prepare three stories before the interview that explain times when you and your teammates faced one or more really tough challenges, you were able to figure out what was wrong and what needed to happen instead, and you resolved the situation successfully. Then, when you are asked a behavioral-interview question, choose the story that best addresses the question. If another excellent story occurs to you, use that one instead. You can feel relaxed and confident during the interview, because you have three “in the can," ready to go should you need them.

Finally, when telling your story, try to address these aspects of the situation:
  • How you analyzed the situation, determining what was working well and what wasn’t
  • How you communicated well so that no one was surprised by the difficult situation
  • How you “played well with others,” coordinating your efforts with teammates to get the job done
  • How you played a unique and important role in addressing the situation
  • How you analyzed and tested possible solutions to the problem
  • How well things turned out in the end

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