Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Preparing Strategically for Behavioral Interviews

The behavioral interview is based on the premise that you can predict an employee’s future performance in a job based upon their history facing similar situation. This type of interview is focused solely on your experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities as they relate to the job for which you are interviewing.

Questions that start with “tell me about a time when,” “how would you handle it if,” and “describe a situation where,” are examples of behavioral questions. When an employer asks a behavioral question, they expect an example or a story that focuses on the skill or ability in question. Vague answers with no concrete examples will not do in this type of interview.

How You Should Answer Behavioral Questions
You may have heard of the PAR formula; this is an acronym for the formula that you can use to answer behavior-based questions. When telling a story, you want to have a beginning, middle, and an end to the tale.

• The P stands for the problem you solved or task you took on. In other words, you need to set the stage for the story. Provide a brief description of the situation you were faced with.
• The A stands for the action you took to solve the problem. This is where you tell the interviewer what you did, as well as who and what were involved.
• The R stands for the result of the situation. Discuss the outcome of the situation, talk about the end result, focus on your success, and expand on what you learned from the experience.

How You Can Prepare for Behavioral Questions
• Before going on an interview, you must prepare yourself in order to be successful. Start by researching the company and the job to determine the skills that will be most valuable. Based on your research, define the five most important skills that you possess and write a PAR story that proves your hands-on experience using that skill.

• Whenever it is possible, quantify the results you achieved with numbers, dollars, and percentages to provide a scope of what you have done. Numbers help the employer to quantify the value you can bring to their company.

• Be prepared to talk about negative examples. For example, be prepared to discuss how you handle failure, what you do when things don’t go as planned, and how you overcome obstacles. Use negative examples to show that you can overcome adversity, that you can learn from your mistakes, and that you are aware of your shortcomings and are able to improve yourself.

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