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Prep to be a star behavioral based interviewing

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Prep to be a star behavioral based interviewing

  1. 1. Prep to be a STAR Understanding and Acing Behavioral Based Interviews 1. Understanding Behavioral Interviews Behavior-based interviewing focuses on experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities that are job related. It is based on the belief that past behavior and performance predicts future behavior and performance. You may use work experience, activities, hobbies, volunteer work, school projects, family life – anything really – examples of your past behavior. Current employment literature indicates that there is a strong trend towards this type of interviewing. To answer behavioral based questions, use examples of your successful problem solving! A complete answer to a behavior-based question must explain the task or situation for which you were responsible, the specific action you took, and the results of your actions. Tell the interviewer a "story" (with a beginning, middle, and an end) about how you used a skill. 2. Types of Questions & Probes Behavioral interview question samples are listed below. Interviewers might ask such questions verbally, in questionnaire form, or both. • • • • • Describe a time that you were challenged or put under pressure. Tell me about a time when you took it upon yourself to accomplish a task on the job, without being asked. Which accomplishment on the job gave you more satisfaction than any other? How would you handle it if a coworker (or subordinate) was not pulling his or her fair share of the load? What was a major obstacle you had to overcome? Depending on the initial questions and your answers, secondary behavioral interview questions might include: • • • • • • • • How did you deal with it? How did you go about achieving it? What was the outcome? What were you thinking at the time? How did it make you feel? What did you say or do? What are some examples? How did you know there was a problem?
  2. 2. Prep to be a STAR Understanding and Acing Behavioral Based Interviews 3. Answering Questions Before answering behavioral interview questions, it's okay to take a moment to think about your answers. Keep your answers brief (two to three minutes or less), specific, work-related and to the point. Maintain reasonable eye contact when answering and try to stay calm and cool. Don't go too far out on a limb and remember your answers, as interviewers might check them for consistency. Below are examples of how a job applicant (technical writer) might answer a series of secondary behavioral interview questions, based on an initial question. Q. Was there ever a time that you were challenged or put under pressure? A. Yes. I recently had to meet a very tight project deadline for an important customer. Would you like for me to go on? Q. Yes, please do. What were the circumstances? A. One of our top customers wanted complex product modifications in only a week, including matching changes to the standard user manual. It was my job to customize the user manual, by working with the engineer who was to make the modifications. During our first project meeting, I recommended that I write an addendum to the user manual, which would be quicker than editing the entire manual. As a result, we got the information out to the users quickly and saved the company money since we didn’t undertake a full revision. Don’t forget to tell about the RESULTS you’ve achieved – even if they aren’t asked for! 4. Preparing for Behavioral Interviews Because behavioral interviews are so very subjective and personal, there are an infinite number of questions and answers. Consequently, there are few "canned" answers that you can practice in advance. Answers must spontaneously come from within you, based on your personal experience. That's the whole idea. However, there are some preliminary steps you can take to prepare for behavioral interviews. Study your resume, cover letter, and STARs. The skills, education, accomplishments, experience and other qualities you've listed may become topics for behavioral interview questions. Also, if you can get a copy of the job description, it is another source of behavioral based interview questions.
  3. 3. Prep to be a STAR Understanding and Acing Behavioral Based Interviews Study the job description (e.g., from the job ad) and try to anticipate questions based on the skills, education, experience and other qualities it requires. Based on the above, create brief, true "stories" that highlight your competencies and other qualities. Focus on specific, work-related situations when you had to rely on your qualities to demonstrate desirable behaviors or actions, such as planning, problem solving, leadership, teamwork, initiative and customer care. This chart may help you in thinking through the STARS format to tell your story: Situation/Task Action Result Make sure each of your stories has a logical beginning, middle and end. A good "formula" to follow is Situation or Task + Action = Result. For example, if you had a problem to resolve, say how you identified the problem, how you went about resolving it, and what the outcome was.
  4. 4. Prep to be a STAR Understanding and Acing Behavioral Based Interviews You'll likely tend to favor only situations with positive results. That's good, because it's what interviewers typically want to hear. But, just in case an interviewer asks a question to the contrary, be prepared to talk about a time when you weren’t 100% successful. Think about your lessons learned experiences: did you learn something to prevent that same goof again and did you handle it differently the next time? Another “negative” example might be to describe how you prevented a problem from recurring.