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Navigating Behavioral Interview Questions

Thursday, May 06, 2010

by Kelly Falcone

Tell me about a time when .....

Different from traditional interview questions like "What are your long term career objectives?" behavioral interview questions probe the details about how you behaved in past work experiences. Rather than ask what you might do in a particular situation, behavioral interviews ask specifically what you did do -with details.

Interviewers use behavioral questions to seek out information on candidate's competencies in specific areas. Questions typically cluster around common themes such as:

Conflict (Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a decision your supervisor made)
Persuasion (Describe a time where you were able to convince someone to see things from your perspective)
Problem solving (Tell me about a time when you came up with an innovative solution to a business problem?)
Leadership/Team Building (Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully motivate a team)

Think about it in terms of telling short "stories" about past job experiences. To help effectively structure your answers, use the acronym S-T-A-R.

S - describe the Situation
T - give details about the Tasks that needed to be completed
A - outline the Action you took
R- Finish your answer by giving the end Result


A basic example using the STAR technique:

Tell me about a time when the deadline on a project suddenly changed, and you had to complete it much earlier than you anticipated? "I had a situation like that just last month. Our client requested that we provide a monthly research report a week earlier than usual (SITUATION). I charted out a revised timeline, what steps we needed to take to complete the project earlier, and what additional resources I needed (TASKS). I presented the revised plan to my supervisor, who approved it (ACTION). With the revised plan, I was able to complete the project by the date the client requested (RESULT)."


With a little preparation, you'll be able to clearly and confidently steer your way through behavioral interview questions!


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