Behavioral interviewing is a common technique in almost every interview you’ll encounter. It’s also the hardest technique to prepare for. Or is it? Find out how you can simply tell stories and ace any interview you walk into.
Behavioral interview questions are certainly not a “new” interviewing technique, however they can catch you off guard if you’re not prepared. While you can spend time learning a great “canned” response to questions such as “tell me about yourself” it’s much harder to prepare for questions you don’t know.
Or is it?
The real problem with this interview approach for interviewees is that instead of getting nice predictable questions such as “tell me about yourself” or “Why should I hire you” a behavioral interview question could be anything. In fact, you’ll probably never hear the exact same question twice.
This technique is designed to probe your ability to use experience to answer questions in an open ended fashion. Typically recruiters use your answers to predict your future behavior.
How To Prepare For the Unknown?
If you don’t know what the question is how could you possibly prepare?
I found overall the best way to answer these types of questions is to literally tell a story.
As a recruiter I also enjoy listening to a quick story instead of hearing boring robotic answers, especially because a response like, “Yeah, I can do that.” is not going to impress anyone.
But there is a catch! When you tell a story, it should be relevant, convincing and short.
How do you do that? Be a STAR that’s how.
STAR is a very popular acronym for constructing answers to behavioral interview questions and it suits our short story method perfectly.
Here’s how it goes:
S = Specific situation
T = Task or target
A = Actions you took
R = Results from your actions.
The format of your stories should include a problem or situation, a task or target you set, the action or activity you took, and the outcome that benefited the company.
Keep your story fast paced and to the point. If it’s interesting you might be asked to elaborate even further.
Getting Specific about questions
Before heading into an interview try to work out what the company might value most, are they are startup and want flexibility, or a large enterprise looking for a specific skill, or a non-for profit that looks for core values.
When you’re asked a question try to come up with an example where you successfully “used” methods that are inline with the company values. Such as I “saved money by doing xy”, or “I developed a new abc”, or “I understood the values and worked on a mutually agreed deal”.
Don’t Go Wandering
When you answer interview questions don’t let your answers wander from topic to topic. Remember to tell your story with STAR in mind.
First, describe the situation, then what task you did, actions you took and your actions accomplished. Stay on topic.
Prove You Can Do it!
Behavioural interview questions are a great way to prove that you are the right person for the job by citing exact examples. While you can’t exactly anticipate a question you can recall stories from your career that demonstrate that you have the skill and competencies necessary to be successful.