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September 30, 2019

How to be Successful in Behavioral-Based Interviews

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Having a successful interview is an important part to landing a job. And while you are often asked about your experiences, it is common to be faced with behavioral-based questions during interviews so managers can better understand how you have handled various work situations in the past.

What is behavior-based interviewing?

Behavioral-based interviewing focuses on experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities in your past that usually relate to the job you are applying for. It is based on the belief that past behavior and performance predicts future behavior and performance. You may use work experience, activities, hobbies, volunteer work, school projects, family life – anything really – as examples of your past behavior.

Examples of behavior-based questions

Behavior questions vary in what they are trying to accomplish. Some work to show your interpersonal communication skills, while others can pertain to how you manage time. Here are a few questions hiring managers have used in the past to help get you started: 

  • Tell me about a time you had to allocate parts of your day to specific tasks to accomplish your highest priorities? 
  • Describe a time when you were faced with a lot of pressure. What was going on and how did you deal with it? 
  • There are many different personalities within a workspace. Tell me how you were able to work alongside someone who had a work style that differed from your own. 

Responding to Behavioral Based Questions

The STAR method is a structured format for responding to behavioral-based interview questions with previous job, extra-curricular or volunteer experience. This method is utilized by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation you are describing. 

  • Situation: Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past.
  • Task: What goal were you working toward? 
  • Action: Describe the actions you took to address the situation with an appropriate amount of detail while keeping the focus on YOU. What specific steps did you take and what was your contribution? Be careful that you don’t describe what the team or group did when talking about a project. Use the word “I,” not “we” when describing actions.
  • Result: Describe the outcome of your actions, and don’t be shy when taking credit for your behavior. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Make sure your answer contains multiple positive results.

Follow all parts of the STAR method to successfully answer these questions. Be as specific as possible without rambling or including too much information. Individuals often need to be prompted to include their results, so try to add that without being asked. Also, showcase examples where you displayed positive results, However, keep in mind that some examples that have a negative result (such as “lost the game”) can highlight your strengths in the face of adversity. 

Tips on Preparing for a Behavioral Interview

  • Analyze the type of position you’re applying and review the job description. What skills is the employer looking for?
  • Consider your background. What skills do you have (content, functional, and adaptive) that relate to your objective?
  • Recall examples from your past experiences where you demonstrated favorable behavior, actions or skills especially involving work experience, leadership, teamwork and/or customer interaction.
  • Prepare a short description of each example and ensure you can go into detail. How can you tell a story about your use of skills or knowledge? Remember that a good story has a beginning, middle and end.
  • Be specific. Do not generalize when giving your response; give a detailed account of an event.
  • Make sure that the outcome or result reflects a positive change or outcome.
  • Vary your examples; pull from different aspects/areas of your life (work, school, volunteer efforts, etc.)

If you can practice this formula when answering behavioral-based questions, hiring managers will see your ability to excel in your role. Just like any new skill, practice goes a long way so start brainstorming answers for you to be one step closer to getting the job of your dreams. 

Explore careers at CDW here.

CDW Team

Having a successful interview is an important part to landing a job. And while you are often asked about your experiences, it is common to be faced with behavioral-based questions during interviews so managers can better understand how you have handled various work situations in the past.

What is behavior-based interviewing?

Behavioral-based interviewing focuses on experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities in your past that usually relate to the job you are applying for. It is based on the belief that past behavior and performance predicts future behavior and performance. You may use work experience, activities, hobbies, volunteer work, school projects, family life – anything really – as examples of your past behavior.

Examples of behavior-based questions

Behavior questions vary in what they are trying to accomplish. Some work to show your interpersonal communication skills, while others can pertain to how you manage time. Here are a few questions hiring managers have used in the past to help get you started: 

  • Tell me about a time you had to allocate parts of your day to specific tasks to accomplish your highest priorities? 
  • Describe a time when you were faced with a lot of pressure. What was going on and how did you deal with it? 
  • There are many different personalities within a workspace. Tell me how you were able to work alongside someone who had a work style that differed from your own. 

Responding to Behavioral Based Questions

The STAR method is a structured format for responding to behavioral-based interview questions with previous job, extra-curricular or volunteer experience. This method is utilized by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation you are describing. 

  • Situation: Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past.
  • Task: What goal were you working toward? 
  • Action: Describe the actions you took to address the situation with an appropriate amount of detail while keeping the focus on YOU. What specific steps did you take and what was your contribution? Be careful that you don’t describe what the team or group did when talking about a project. Use the word “I,” not “we” when describing actions.
  • Result: Describe the outcome of your actions, and don’t be shy when taking credit for your behavior. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Make sure your answer contains multiple positive results.

Follow all parts of the STAR method to successfully answer these questions. Be as specific as possible without rambling or including too much information. Individuals often need to be prompted to include their results, so try to add that without being asked. Also, showcase examples where you displayed positive results, However, keep in mind that some examples that have a negative result (such as “lost the game”) can highlight your strengths in the face of adversity. 

Tips on Preparing for a Behavioral Interview

  • Analyze the type of position you’re applying and review the job description. What skills is the employer looking for?
  • Consider your background. What skills do you have (content, functional, and adaptive) that relate to your objective?
  • Recall examples from your past experiences where you demonstrated favorable behavior, actions or skills especially involving work experience, leadership, teamwork and/or customer interaction.
  • Prepare a short description of each example and ensure you can go into detail. How can you tell a story about your use of skills or knowledge? Remember that a good story has a beginning, middle and end.
  • Be specific. Do not generalize when giving your response; give a detailed account of an event.
  • Make sure that the outcome or result reflects a positive change or outcome.
  • Vary your examples; pull from different aspects/areas of your life (work, school, volunteer efforts, etc.)

If you can practice this formula when answering behavioral-based questions, hiring managers will see your ability to excel in your role. Just like any new skill, practice goes a long way so start brainstorming answers for you to be one step closer to getting the job of your dreams. 

Explore careers at CDW here.

CDW Team

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