Could you give an example of a time you faced a conflict while working on a team and how you handled it? How about a time when you had to work closely with someone whose personality was different from your own?
These are examples of behavioral questions, and they’re not uncommon during job interviews.
Behavioral questions are based on the idea that past behavior will indicate future behavior. It, perhaps obviously, allows interviewers to understand what kinds of behaviors you use to solve problems.
Like anything in life, there are things you can control and things you cannot. You may not know if a potential employer plans to ask a behavioral question, but you can practice answering different examples using a helpful method called STAR:
- S: Situation (background)
- T: Task (challenge)
- A: Action (your actions)
- R: Result (outcome and lessons learned)
You can try it yourself with one of the following examples:
- Think about a time you overcame an obstacle.
- Think about a time when something didn’t go as planned.
Now, craft a response using the situation, the task, your actions, and the outcome. Among other things, employers want to see problem-solving skills, an ability to work in a team, communication skills, leadership, and a strong work ethic.
What else can you control heading into a job interview?
You can be sure to research the company and the industry. You can look at Glassdoor to better understand the typical interview styles for that industry. You can analyze the job description to determine potential questions the interviewer may ask. You can be sure to always frame responses in the positive.
You can create a list of questions to ask the interviewers that show your interest in, or understanding of, their company. Some questions you could ask include:
- How would you describe the company’s workplace culture?
- What characteristics best describe a successful person at your company?
- (Avoid asking about salary, benefits, vacation, and perks)
You should arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. You should be kind to everyone you meet. You should take notes, and you should send a “thank you” email within 24 hours. Hand-written notes can be a nice addition if timing allows.
Interviews are an opportunity for the employer to get to know you and determine if your skills and experiences match the organization’s needs. It’s an opportunity to determine if it’s a good fit for both parties.
As a candidate, it’s your job to prepare, demonstrate your communication skills, and sell yourself by highlighting your key attributes. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will be when you walk into the room.