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Behavioral Interviewing

Job Seekers GETTING THE JOB

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Behavioral Interviewing

This is a technique that has been adopted by more than half of on-campus recruiters. The behavioral interview is based on the premise that the best way to predict future behavior is to determine and evaluate past behavior. This type of interview is different, and takes special preparation and skill to perform well.

First, an employer determines a profile of desired behaviors. Some examples of desired behavior are:

  • Customer Service
  • Stress Tolerance
  • Initiative
  • Planning
  • Organization
  • Problem-solving
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Flexibility
  • Motivation

Next, the interviewer asks an open-ended question designed to stimulate recollection of a situation that would lead to a desired behavior. Following are some examples of situations that may provoke desired behaviors.

  • Balancing/prioritizing several tasks within a short period of time
  • Dealing with an unproductive or uncooperative colleague
  • Finding better ways to perform a task

The interviewer asks for an overview of the situation, the candidate’s role, other players involved, key events and the outcome. The interviewer would ask follow-up questions like, “What did you do?” “What did you say?” For example, for flexibility, the interviewer might ask: “Describe a situation that required several things to be done at the same time. What was the action? What was the result?” For leadership, the interviewer might ask: “Describe a situation in which your efforts influenced the actions of others. What was your action? What was the result? The acronym “STAR” provides the formula for this questioning process.

S – Describe the situation in which you were involved.
T – Describe the task to be performed.
A – What was your approach to the problem?
R – What were the results of your actions?

The interviewer documents your responses and compares actual behaviors in a situation to the desired profile of behaviors.

In a behavioral interview, make sure the answers you give are honest, concise, and reflect positively on you (even if the event did not have a positive outcome). Remember that you are selling yourself, and the interview is the first place to prove your worth to a company.

Differences Between Behavioral and Traditional Interviews

  • The behavioral interviewer will ask you to provide details and will not allow you to theorize or generalize about events and actions.
  • The behavioral interviewer is fact-finding and will focus on your actual past actions, not what you “should” or “would” have done. Some interviewers, however, will follow-up with questions such as, “Looking back on this experience, what would you do differently?”
  • The behavioral interviewer is more interactive with you and will continue probing with follow-up questions or refocusing in order to get the information needed.
  • The behavioral interview may be longer and the interviewer will likely be taking copious notes.