No hiring manager wants a long track record of poor hiring decisions. When employers rely on superficial questions and quick judgements to weed out applicants, they risk hiring people exceptional at self-promotion but unqualified for their jobs. Hiring managers use behavioral interviewing techniques to predict your future potential, evaluating your behavior in past roles. Show up for your next behavioral interview with detailed examples of how you demonstrated teamwork, leadership and ingenuity in previous positions.
1. Open-Ended Questions
In behavioral interviews, hiring managers want to determine what you can do for the company. The goal is to evaluate how you approach responsibilities, make decisions and resolve conflicts. Expect open-ended prompts that require personal examples rather than one-dimensional questions you can answer with "yes," "no" or an unsupported opinion. Consider these two questions.
A. Are you a good multitasker?
B. Describe a situation when you had to handle multiple responsibilities at once.
The first question prompts you to provide an opinion about yourself. Yet, most candidates know hiring managers want positive responses, so they can easily succeed in interviews by misrepresenting themselves. On the other hand, the second question prompts you to share a snapshot of your personality and background. You have to outline the thought process you used to multitask in a real professional environment.
2. The STAR Method
Proponents of behavioral interviewing often use the STAR method to assess a candidate's answers, so be prepared to present your stories in this format. The acronym "STAR" stands for Situation/Task, Action and Results. Describe the situation or task, and follow up with an explanation of the actions you took to handle the problem. Conclude with a summary of the outcome and how your behavior led to those results.
Avoid using hypothetical examples that make you appear inexperienced or dishonest. Stick to stories that describe what you did, why you made specific choices, how you achieved successful results and what you learned from the experience. Pay attention to which professional skills are important to the interviewer so you can emphasize them in your examples.
3. Character Assessment
Employers are of course interested in your hard skills, but they also seek information concerning your personality compatibility and work ethic. Hiring managers realize a resume cannot provide a complete picture of an applicant's qualifications, so they use behavioral interviews to learn how you relate to others and analyze different situations.
In a 2014 CareerBuilder survey of 2,138 employers, 73 percent of respondents chose a strong work ethic and dependability as the most important soft skills in new hires. Other top traits on the list include a positive attitude, self-motivation, organization and a team-oriented mentality. Keep in mind the hiring manager's job is to probe for character flaws that may hinder workflow. Make sure your statements show a balanced depth of character, and avoid generalizations that make you seem shallow and disinterested.
Behavioral interviews may seem daunting at first, but in reality, they help you provide structured examples that highlight your most valuable skills and accomplishments. If you follow the STAR method and prepare detailed stories, you can avoid a mental block and feel confident when talking about yourself in a high-pressure interview.
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