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Prepare For Behavioral Interview Questions

By Jeremy Cyrus 09/06/2012
Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions

Studies related to workplace sociology and HR management are beginning to reveal an interesting truth: Candidates who possess the skills required for a certain job won’t necessarily find success if they can’t also adapt to the culture of their new workplace. Hiring managers and recruiters are now using this fact to shape their searches and screening methods. These days, interviews often contain a behavioral component, in which managers ask not just about a candidate’s resume and skill sets, but also her personality. “Behavioral questions” are very common and seem to be here to stay. How can a job seeker prepare?

What Are Behavioral Interview Questions?

Behavioral interview questions are designed to assess a candidate’s alignment with an existing workplace attitude and culture. They’re often open-ended and they sometimes present the candidate with hypothetical scenarios. A few examples include the following:

“Describe an episode in which you led a team that failed to meet its goals. What happened and what did you learn?”

“How would you describe your working style?”

“If you have to choose between missing a deadline and risking errors in order to rush a project to completion, which would you choose and why?”

The best way to handle a behavioral interview question is to remember three rules:

  1. Think first. Don’t let your nervous energy get the best of you and don’t start blurting an answer before you’ve decided what to say. Pause for at least two full seconds before you speak.
  2. Be honest. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, and you want to succeed in this job as much as the manager wants you to succeed. If you and the culture aren’t a fit, it’s better to find out now.
  3. Be introspective. You have good reasons for your behavioral tendencies, but you can frame and explain your tendencies in a more articulate way if you know what these reasons are.
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