Behavioral Interview Questions

Behavioral interviewing is a relatively new mode of job interviewing developed in the 1970's.

The premise behind behavioral interviewing is that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in similar situations. Behavioral interviewing, in fact,is said to be 55 percent predictive of future on-the-job behavior, while traditional interviewing only 10 percent predictive.

Behavioral-based interviewing is touted as providing a more objective set of facts to makeemployment decisions than other interviewing methods. Traditional interview questions ask you general questions such as "Tell me about yourself". The process of behavioral interviewing is much more probing and works very differently. (Employers use the behavioral interview technique to evaluate a candidate's experiences and behaviors so they can determine the applicant's potential for success.) The interviewer identified job-related experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities that the company has decided are desirable in a particular position.

How Can I Best Answer Behavior-Based Questions?

Think of "PAR for the Course". A complete answer to a behavior-based question must explain the task or problem for which you were responsible, the specific action you took and the results of your actions. Your answer must contain all of these components to be a PAR answer. Tell the interviewer a "story" (with a beginning, a middle and an end) about how you used a practical skill.

Problem (P) - Advertising revenue was falling off for the Daily News and large numbers of long-term advertisers were not renewing contracts.

Action (A) - I designed a new promotional packet to go with the rate sheet and compared the benefits of DN circulation with other ad media in the area. I also set-up a special training session for the account executives with a College of Business professor who discussed competitive selling strategies.

Result(R) - We signed contracts with fifteen former advertisers for daily ads and five for special supplements. We increased our new advertisers by twenty percent (quantities are always good) over the same period last year.

How Can I Prepare for a Behavioral Interview?

Analyze the type of positions for which you're applying. Try to get an actual job description. What skills are required by employers?

Analyze your own background. What skills do you have (content, functional and adaptive) that relate to your job objective?

Identify examples from your past experience where you demonstrated those skills. How can you "tell a story" about your use of particular skills or knowledge? Concentrate on developing complete PAR answers and remember that a good story has a beginning, middle and end.

Whenever possible, quantify your results. Numbers illustrate your level of authority and responsibility.

Be prepared to provide examples of when results didn't turn out as you planned. What did you do then?

Before starting the interview process, identify 2 to 3 of your top selling points and determine how you will convey these points (with demonstrated PAR stories) during the interview.

Once employed, keep a personal achievement diary to help document demonstrated performance (PAR stories).