What Are Behavioral Questions and How Do You Answer Them?

In job interviews nowadays, the use of behavioral questions is more common than it used to be in the past. This means that if you are going on job interviews it is very likely that some of the questions you encounter are behavioral in nature. Behavioral questions are tough for the candidate, especially when they are unprepared and don’t really know what the interviewer wants to hear.

The very nature of the behavioral question makes it virtually impossible for you to fake your answer. So the absolute worse thing you can do is show up to your interview unprepared, not even knowing what a behavioral interview question is. You will do just fine if you understand the purpose and intent of the questions and what the interviewer expects to hear in your answers. But you also need to use an appropriate model to frame your answers and PRACTICE answering questions of this type. Only this type of thorough preparation will prepare for Acing the behavioral questions in your job interview.

There are two models commonly used for framing responses to behavioral questions:

1) S-T-A-R (Situation, Task, Action, Results)

2) S-H-A-R-E (Situation, Hindrance, Action, Results, Evaluation)

In a behavioral interview, the interviewer will be listening for specific details about how you handled a specific situation in your past using some type of skill usually like customer service, leadership etc. They are looking for REAL situations where you used a specific skill. Back in the day, the interviewer may have asked a hypothetical question about how you think you might deal with a particular situation. That’s not how it works anymore. Nowadays, they want you to pull from your past experience and tell them about a situation where you actually dealt with a specific situation. They want details – who, what, where, when, why how. See, behavioral interviewing is based on the premise that what you’ve done in the past is a good predictor of what you’re likely to do in the future.

Borrowed from http://www.rightattitudes.com

So, using the S-T-A-R model to frame your answer you will begin by clearly describing the actual SITUATION that is, by setting the scene: where were you, who was there, what were you doing, why were you in that situation, what was the general atmosphere like etc. You have to think of this process as you telling a true story, a recounting of actual events that happened. Setting the context helps you tell the story, and helps the interviewer better understand the details.

Next in your S-T-A-R storytelling adventure you will describe the TASK or what you were specifically supposed to do. Here you want to be sure to outline any and all the challenges that surfaced, making accomplishing the task difficult. Discuss what is supposed to happen in situations like the one describing and how this particular scenario was a little different.

Next discuss the ACTIONS you took to resolve the issue, overcome the challenges, and/or solve the problem. Discuss how you responded to the issue; how did your actions help or hurt; did you have to find alternate solutions; who you asked for help etc.

Finally when discussing the RESULTS, tell the interviewer how your actions impacted the business. Did you receive recognition or a reprimand? Did your actions save the day? Was your method of handling the situation used as a benchmark for others to measure up to?

Keep in mind when you select your story to tell, you don’t want to pick one where everything was rosy and dandy. Furthermore, you don’t want to alter the facts of the event to paint yourself in a better light. Not only will the interview see right through that, but you will severely damage your credibility as a viable candidate. You want to show depth of character, show your humanness, and show your ability to learn and grow professionally from the situations you encounter. Never try to portray yourself as perfect because the interviewer knows you’re not. Besides, interviewers want to see a balanced view of you in the work environment and often are looking for examples when things didn’t quite turn out the way they should have.

The S-H-A-R-E model follows the same premise as above for SITUATION, ACTION and RESULTS. In addition, this model specifically calls out the HINDRANCE or challenge. Additionally in the EVALUATION you will evaluate the outcomes, examining what the results meant for the company, what was their impact, what you learned from the situation, and how you might do things differently next time.

Use either model to frame your answers to behavioral questions. Find examples of behavioral questions on the internet, or follow the link below and practice, practice, practice! You can expect to do much better with behavioral questions and provide the detailed responses that the interviewers expect.

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