Secrets to Answering Behavioral Job Interview Questions

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By: Jimmy Sweeney

Author of the brand new "Job Interview Secret"

Secrets to Answering Behavioral Job Interview Questions

Behavioral job interview questions are questions based on the premise that "past behavior predicts future behavior." Consequently, the interviewer asks the candidate a question that is designed to discover how he or she reacted in a specific kind of situation. The interviewer evaluates that reaction according to a conception of how the organization would want an employee to react in an identical situation. If you are scheduled to interview for a job that uses behavioral interviews, you should send some time specifically preparing for the experience.

Though behavioral job interview questions are not impossible to "finesse" or "spin" they do require a bit more effort than simple interview questions. Normal interview questions that ask if you have a specific type of experience can be answered with simple, non-specific answers like "yes, I do." Behavioral job interview questions, however, do not ask if you have the experience, they ask you to describe a specific incident or experience. If you do not have this specific experience, or if you do have it but can't quite think of it when prompted, you will have a hard time performing well on the behavioral interview. For that reason, your preparation method should include four steps; research the position, predict the questions, develop the answers and practice the answers.

Your Behavioral Job Interview Preparation Guide

Research the position means learning enough about the job and the company to know what the interviewer will be looking for. You can find this information through published documents such as a job description and through informal channels like people you know with familiarity with the company. At the very minimum, learn the duties of the job, the results the job is expected to achieve and the characteristics the corporate culture most admires. That list of requirements and preferences forms the basis of your next step, predicting the questions. Since you know what the interviewer is looking for, you should be able to guess what kinds of behavior he or she will prompt you to talk about. Develop your answers by taking your existing experience, attributes, history and qualifications and building stories about specific times that you displayed them on the job or in life. These stories should each have a situation, an action you take and a result you achieve. For even more effect, find a way to tell the stories in a way that matches closely with the environment or situation at the target job.

Since the behavioral job interview technique seems unnatural to most job seekers, who are used to simply answering questions, it helps to do some practice ahead of time. Get together with a friend or job search partner and have him or her ask you the predicted questions. As you answer, focus on telling the story of the specific incident, and highlighting the element that you are prompted to display. For even more effectiveness, use your ideal candidate profile to your advantage and find a way to highlight additional desired qualities while you recount your narrative.

Keyword: behavioral job interview questions

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