Behavioral Interviewing is an interviewing method used by Hiring Managers to learn more about your past behavior in certain situations. The theory behind digging into those past actions and reactions is the feeling that past conduct and performance is a great predictor of future performance.

Regardless of your tenure, the behavioral interview approach can be intimidating. If you research “behavioral interviewing” on the internet, you will find many recommendations on how to prepare for these types of engagements.  I will tell you, however, there are only two simple rules you should be aware of when preparing for these types of interviews.

Rule #1: Always use real examples

General answers are not what the Hiring Manager is looking for. She wants specific details about the event, the project, the team, or the experience and the particulars on how you dealt with the situation.

Additionally, always avoid using language such as “I would do…” as this only describes how you would behave…not how you actually have behaved in the past. Using the “I would do” terminology will leave the Hiring Manager believing you a) either haven’t experienced this type of situation and are therefore inexperienced or b) you didn’t believe your behavior was appropriate and therefore shouldn’t share it.

Here is an example:

A Behavioral Interview approach may be: “Tell me about a time where you had a team member who wasn’t carrying their fair share of the work load, and how you handled it”. This statement demands you articulate details on how you handled an employee who was not working at the same level of your other team members.  It is important you provide a real example, describing the situation in detail, so the Hiring Manager will be able to tell if your leadership experience and management style will be a good fit for her organization.

However, if you answer “I would take the individual to the side…” or some other similar hypothetical example, you have given the hiring manager no idea of how you would truly handle (or have truly handled) this situation in the past.

Rule #2: Always keep it positive

By the nature of the behavioral interviewing beast, some questions the Hiring Manager may ask you will not necessarily yield positive examples of your work history.

Such questions may include:

  • Tell me about a goal that you set that you did not reach. What steps did you take? What obstacles did you encounter? How did it make you feel?
  • Tell me about a time when you missed a deadline.
  • Tell me about a time where you took a risk and failed.

Clearly the answer to any of these questions will show where you perhaps made a mistake or failed in some way…so how do you keep it positive?

This is easy! Show how you took responsibility for your error or weakness. Speak to your lessons learned and talk about what you have personally put into place to ensure you never make the same mistake again. Now you are showing the Hiring Manager you are a professional who takes responsibility for his actions, learns from previous errors, and continually grows as an individual. What a great message to get across!

For information on how to prepare for a behavioral interview, please read the Preparing for a Behavioral Interview article I wrote. I hope you have found this information useful!

Investing in a Lifetime of Success

Angela Roberts

Related Articles:

Are you considering a career change? If so, sign up for our Job Seeker email course which provides valuable insight into how to become more competitive in the marketplace.