How Nailing Behavioral Interview Questions Can Help You Stand Out in a Crowded Job Market

In an overly crowded and competitive job market, being prepared can help you stand apart so you can land your next job. While you’re refreshing your résumé and picking your interview attire, take some time to brush up on your interview skills, including the often-overlooked behavioral interview questions.

What is a behavioral interview question?

While traditional interview questions may ask you about previous roles and responsibilities, behavioral interview questions help employers get a feel for your thought processes, problem-solving skills and general fit within their organization.

The logic behind this type of question is that your past behaviors reflect and predicts how you will behave in the future. Companies are not in the business to change you, so hiring managers are trying to determine if your behaviors are aligned with their company values.

Company values are the fundamental beliefs upon which company behavior is based. They are the guiding principles companies use to manage internal affairs as well as its relationship with customers. So a company that values honesty may ask, “Tell me about a time when you made a mistake and how you handled it?” In asking this, the interviewer wants to know that you can acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them – two very important qualities.

How can you prepare for behavioral interview questions?

Behavioral interview questions are not meant to trip you up. But, rather, give hiring managers better insight into who it is they’re hiring. Remember, they’ve most likely never met you before.

Some things you can do to help you prepare for behavioral interview questions include:

Research the company. Taking the time to research the company you’re interviewing with will not only make it easier to intelligently answer interview questions, it’ll help you better be able to customize your answers to highlight the qualities it values.

Review the job description. Similar to researching a company before going into your interview, reviewing job requirements will help match your experiences with the skills and qualities required to successfully fill this role.

Reflect on your behaviors and personality. Ultimately, the person who gets to decide whether you’re a good fit for a job is you. While it is a competitive job market, you and your potential employer’s values still need to be aligned. So take some time for some self-reflection:

  • Think about events in past jobs. How did you leverage problem-solving skills? Did you need to act humbly? Did you need to rebuild trust? How do you avoid making that mistake again?
  • Think about interactions with coworkers. Are you an emotionally intelligent person? Emotional intelligence refers to how well a person manages, controls and expresses their emotions, as well as their ability to interact with others with empathy and professionalism.
  • Think about who you are as a person. What motivates you? What do you consider your best qualities? What makes you mad?

Prepare some stories. Interviews are conversations. Being able to answer an interview question with an anecdote shows that you’re engaged in this conversation. Using the STAR interview technique can help you turn personal stories into well thought-out answers.

  • Situation & Task – Describe a situation that you were in, including the task you had to complete.
  • Action – Describe the specific actions (your behavior) you took to complete the task.
  • Result – What were the results of your efforts, actions or experience?

Other Helpful Tips:

  • Stay positive!
  • Keep your answers concise; answer the question in 1-2 minutes.
  • If you’re struggling to answer a question, take a 3-second pause and continue.
  • Practice! Record yourself, use a stop watch, or reach out to the Goodwill Workforce Connection Center staff and request a mock interview.
  • Don’t talk about your life situations, illnesses, family situations.
  • Don’t talk about how much you hate your last job, boss, co-workers, etc.
  • Don’t ask about salary, vacation time and benefits, (unless the recruiter mentions salary or benefits).
  • Be confident in yourself.

To ensure the health and safety of both you and your interview, your next job interview might take place over a video call. Check out our tips to prepare for a virtual interview.

Reposted with permission from Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin.