Behavioral interview questions: What are they?
In a lot of places in the world, interview questions focus almost entirely on your technical skills, your education, and your past experience.
In the US, we also talk about these things in a job, of course, but it’s common to ask a lot of behavioral questions. So, what are behavioral questions exactly?
Here are some examples:
“Tell us about the most difficult person you’ve ever had to work with, and how you managed to work with them.”
“Sometimes it’s good to break out of our routines. Tell me about a time when you had to apply a new method or work in a different way and what happened.”
“In your past experiences, have you ever coached or mentored someone in your company to help them become successful?”
Those are all behavioral questions.
The recruiter asks about a situation, a problem or challenge. Then they ask about the action you took. Often, behavioral questions are about difficult situations. They can also be about how you demonstrated leadership skills. This is very important for a lot of American recruiters, even if you’re not a top manager.
Tips for answering behavioral questions
Behavioral questions can be challenging, but there’s good news! You can use the same strategy to answer basically any behavioral question.
So what’s the secret strategy?
Well, there’s an entire lesson that shows you!! It’s called the STAR technique, and you can click here to watch that lesson.
In your answer to behavioral questions, tell a story. Imagine your answer is like the plot of a movie: the context, the action you took, and the happy ending. It is an American interview after all
Even if the situation doesn’t have a happy ending, be sure to tell the lesson that you learned from the result. This will be as important–or maybe more important–than the result itself.
In your STAR answer, highlight your role in the action. A job interview, especially with Americans, is not the time to minimize your actions and how you got results.
Of course, at the same time, it’s important to show you’re a team player and that you work well with others, but you want to show how you take initiative too.
How to prepare to answer behavioral questions
Now the question is, how do you prepare to answer pretty much any question that starts with “Tell me about a time….” or “Have you ever….” or “Describe a situation where you….”
There are about a billion questions the recruiter could ask!
To prepare, start by brainstorming situations you can talk about. Think about your past career, experience by experience. Everything!
Try to remember difficult situations, different projects you worked on, and people you worked with. Try to remember when took any leadership role, even a small one. And practice talking about these experiences using the STAR structure.
There’s one very important piece of advice I can give you: Practice! Out loud.
Try to make your answer around 3 minutes max.You don’t want to talk too long. Your answer doesn’t have to be exactly 3 minutes–it’s not a timed test–but you want to be clear and concise, but also complete.
See? It’s a good idea to practice out loud!
And it’s a good idea to watch the video lesson to start your preparation.
Now what about you?
Tell me about a time when you had to answer a behavioral question in an interview. It’s the perfect opportunity to practice what you learned in this lesson.
See what I did there? 😉
And I have a special bonus for you: English expressions and insider tips from an international recruiter, so you succeed in your next interview. Click here to get your tips.
Good luck with your interview,
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