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Preparing for a successful job interview

September 6, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Behavioral Interviewing

Preparing for a successful job interviewImage

What Is Behavioral Interviewing?

  • Behavioral interviewing (BI) is considered to be a way to evaluate a candidate’s potential for success by assessing performance in similar situations.
  • Employers believe that past behavior is the best predictor for future success.
  • The purpose of BI is to best match the candidate’s skills, competencies and motives with the requirements and success factors of the position.

What Is The Advantage To Behavioral Interviewing?

Allows the interviewer to:

  • Gain detailed job-related examples
  • Assess past performance
  • Assess competencies
  • Focus the interview so candidates provide more than just “canned” responses

Can I Prepare For A Behavioral Interview?

Yes!  In fact, preparing for a behavioral interview will even help you in a traditional interview.

  • Although you cannot predict the exact questions, you can think about your answers to common questions and skill sets employers are looking for.  We will get to that soon.
  • Typically a company determines skill sets by doing a detailed analysis of the position they are hiring for.
  • It is helpful if you do this too in preparation for the interview by asking yourself some questions such as:
    • What are the necessary skills to do this job?
    • What makes a successful candidate?
    • What would make an unsuccessful candidate?
    • What is the most difficult part of this job?
  • This will help you to get a feel for what kinds of questions you may anticipate and what to include in your answers.

Think like an Employer…

What skills or qualities are needed for a person to be successful in this position?

Preparing for a Behavioral Interview

  • Examine your past work experiences, and be aware of what highlights your skills, attributes, and accomplishments
  • Practice your stories using real-life examples, have specifics that focus on your involvement
  • Look over skill sets and sample questions here and on suggested websites
  • Know your resume and all your experiences well
  • Be knowledgeable about the job you are applying for

Skills & Desired Behaviors That an Employer May Be Looking for

Sample Behavioral Interview Questions

  • Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to use your persuasion skills to influence someone’s opinion.
  • Describe a situation when you were able to have a positive influence on the actions of others.
  • What have you done in the past to contribute toward a teamwork environment?
  • Describe a recent unpopular decision you made and what the result was.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to keep from speaking or making a decision because you did not have enough information.
  • How do you decide what gets top priority when scheduling your time?
  • Describe an instance when you had to think on your feet and extricate yourself from a difficult situation.

Tips For Answering BI Questions

  • With each question asked, think through what information is being sought – and provide an example from your own experience
  • Don’t ramble – take a moment to collect your thoughts and organize your answer before replying
  • Try not to say ‘we’ too often – the interviewer wants to know what ‘you’ accomplished specifically
  • Use the STAR interviewing technique

STAR Technique

This is a common strategy for preparing for your interview and answering questions

Situation – describe the situation that you were in


Task– describe the task that you needed to accomplish

Action– describe the action you took

Results – What did you accomplish or learn?

S.T.A.R Example

Question: Tell me about a project you initiated.


  • Situation/Task: During my internship last summer I was responsible for managing “ABC” events … I noticed that attendance at these events had dropped by 30% over the past 3 years…
  • Action: I designed a new promotional packet to go out to the local community businesses… collected feedback on our events… organized internal discussions to raise awareness…
  • Result: We utilized ideas from the community, made our internal systems more efficient and visible and raised attendance by 18% the first year.
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