Getting the interview is one thing, being prepared for it is another. You hear it all the time, advice coming from every direction on how to dominate your next interview, but has anyone talked to you about the “Behavioral Interview component?” You might be wondering what that even is. These are the open-ended questions employers ask potential candidates about specific experiences or examples from past work scenarios that may make you more or less the right candidate for the open position. Answering these open-ended questions can leave you stumped when put on the spot and scrambling to come up with the “perfect” answer. Consider the following three guiding points to answer those tough questions the right way, leading employers to hire you over any other candidate.
In interviews you will often hear the words, “Describe a situation where you….?” This question can be daunting and intimidating, but don’t let it be! Here is what to consider before your next interview in regards to this situational type question:
- Be Specific. Don’t say it, show it. Avoid hyperbole at all costs. In the interview universe everyone is a people-person, team player, detail oriented, and hard worker.
- Cite a specific timeframe, employer, and position – this is crucial. When the employer is asking for a “situation where” you need to have a specific example that allows you to elaborate without exaggeration.
- Provide background to a specific situation. The more detailed (without going on a tangent) the better. Utilize this time to show the employer what a great asset you would be to the team. Remember that they are asking these questions for a reason, knowing that there may be a time when a similar situation arises at that particular company and they are curious as to how you would handle it.
- Describe in detail how you handled it — Ding, Ding, Ding, as stated before, how you handled that specific situation is crucial for you to be considered for the next interview phase.
- Clearly convey the outcome and what your ultimate role in it was. Your role in the situation is just another telling sign as to whether or not you are the right fit for the company and the role specifically.
Example: “While at my last job at AAA Acme roughly six months ago, I was dealing with a very unhappy customer. Given I was the team lead at the time it was my responsibility… The customer was satisfied with our response but was even more pleased with our willingness to listen to their concerns. Not only was the situation diffused, they later submitted a Google review of four stars.”
“Tell me what you feel your biggest weakness is.” If you are like me, this is the WORST question to be asked in an interview. You don’t want to let the potential employer know that you aren’t the most organized person, or maybe you have trouble getting to work on time. The key is to be truthful but don’t be too hard on yourself, so much so that the employer now sees your weakness as means to not hire you. Consider the following:
- Avoid the “humble-brag, strength as a weakness” response (i.e. I my biggest weakness is that I am obsessed with perfection, and at times it consumes me because I will only ever produce work that is perfect.)
- Be genuine. Give a real weakness but tell them how you have or are currently handling your weaknesses. Explain different ways you are working to better yourself and to turn that weakness into a strength.
- The question is not about finding out whether or not you are perfect; that doesn’t exist. It is more about your workstyle, character, level of self-awareness, whether or not you are growth-oriented, and how you deal with challenges.
Example: “I have been known to be curt and to-the-point when under pressure. This has alienated team members in the past…. I have been working on taking a moment to process the question, process my response in earnest, switch from internal to external, then verbalize my response.”
“Do you have any questions for me/us at this time?” Yes! Have questions prepared for the end of your interview. This shows employers your eagerness as well as preparation for the interview. It is okay to bring a notebook to the interview with questions already written out. It is also okay to jot things down during your interview so that you can ask questions later. Consider the following points:
- Potentially, there are many bad questions one could ask. But the worst kind of question is one that isn’t asked.
- Get to know the company you are interviewing for in depth to feed curiosity and formulate thoughtful questions to ask during the interview. When a company sees that you did your research prior to the interview, they will be impressed. It shows your forward thinking, thoughtfulness, and curiosity.
- Questions you ask are an opportunity to display your knowledge of potential contributions and you embodying the solution to their “pain points.”
Example: “I see that you will be expanding to three other sites across the valley within the next 18-24 months. Do you foresee mining leadership for those locations from within or searching would you be open to looking at individuals outside of the organization?”
Feeling Confident Yet?
The key to preparing for interviews is to think ahead and do your research. The more you know about the company, their expectations, pain points, culture, goals, etc. the better your interview will go. You have to almost think like a current employee when you are in the interview and be sure to express how you would be a benefit to their team, how you would help eliminate pain points, and help them grow! Don’t be intimidated by your next interview, instead be prepared with our guide to rocking the behavioral interview.