Preparing for Behavior-Based Interviews

As you prepare for your next job interview, remember that you may encounter behavior-based interview questions designed to elicit patterns of accomplishments relevant to the situation. These types of questions challenge you to provide concrete examples of your achievements in different types of situations. Such interviews are based on the simple belief that how a job candidate has responded to certain types of situations in the past is a good predictor of how that person will behave in a similar future situation.

Behavior-based questions are likely to begin with some variation of:

  • Give me an example of a time when you . . .
  • Give me an example of how you . . .
  • Tell me what you did when . . .

This is an opportunity for you to sell your positives with an example or two. Briefly describe the situation, enthusiastically explain what you did (adding information as to why) and indicate the outcome.

You want to select examples that promote your skills and have a positive outcome. Even if the interviewer asks about a time when something negative happened, try to select an example where you were able to turn the situation around and get a positive result. If asked, “Tell me about a time you made a bad decision,” try to identify an example where:

  • Even though it wasn’t the best decision, you were able to pull something positive out of the situation.
  • Though a poor decision, you learned from it and in the next similar situation you made a good decision, or you know how you will handle it differently in the future.
  • It was a bad decision, but the negative outcome had only minor impact.

As you prepare for your interview, consider situations where you:

  • demonstrated leadership
  • handled change or trends
  • solved a problem
  • handled criticism
  • increased company profits
  • met a deadline/missed a deadline
  • made a good decision/made a poor decision
  • worked as part of a team

Add to this list other behavioral questions that apply to the job for which you are interviewing. For example, if the job includes making presentations, expect questions about a speech where you achieved your goal or conversely about a time when your speech failed.

Review your list of the situations, your actions, and the results before your next job interview to keep them at the front of your mind during the interview. For more interview advice, read these articles:

10 Steps to Nailing a Phone Interview
Simple Tips for a Stellar Virtual Interview
Quick Tips for Video Interviewing
Interview Like a Pro