How to Prepare for a Behavioral Interview

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Employers often ask behavioral interview questions to find out how you will act in common workplace situations. When they use this method, they will ask how you acted during a specific time at work, which might indicate how you would act in a similar future scenario. This article explains how to prepare for a behavioral interview with examples.

What is a behavioral interview?

In a behavioral interview, the employer asks questions about how you have acted in a past work situation. This technique is one way for managers to decide whether you might use their preferred methods of handling certain situations in the future. Prepare for a behavioral interview in advance to improve your answers, making them sound confident and natural.

How to prepare for a behavioral interview

Follow these steps to prepare for a behavioral interview so you can get the job:

1. Firstly, review the job description

Review the job description thoroughly. It may describe the behavioral characteristics or skills the employer requires for the position, so it might be a good indication of what questions they will ask. Think of how you used these skills at previous jobs and be ready to give examples.

2. Next, use the STAR technique

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result, and it can help you formulate precise answers. When the employer asks you a behavioral interview question, try to answer it using the STAR technique. Here is an example:

  • Situation: This could be a time you needed to complete a presentation with your team.
  • Task: Define what your task was in that scenario, such as creating PowerPoint slides. 
  • Action: Talk about the action you did to complete the project, such as reviewing the final slides with the team. 
  • Result: Explain the result of this scenario, such as successfully putting on the presentation and landing a contract with a client.

3. Then, write down your biggest accomplishments in the past year

There is a good chance the interviewer will ask about your most significant accomplishments of the past year. Prepare by thinking of which project you are most proud of and review the details of how you accomplished it.

Reviewing your most difficult project and what you learned from it can also help you. Employers are likely to understand that not every project you’ve worked on got perfect results, but they will usually want to hear how you learned from difficult projects and what you will do differently in the future.

4. Finally, practice your answers out loud

A good way to remember your answers during your interview is to practice them aloud multiple times. This technique can help you get used to repeating your answers and can make them sound more natural. You may start to remember the details without needing to look at your notes. Talking in front of a mirror is one way to practice your answers and improve your confidence. You can also enlist a friend or family member to ask you the questions so you can repeat the answers back to them.

Sample behavioral interview questions

Here are several sample behavioral interview questions and suggestions for answers:

  • What have you done in the past when a team member did not complete their portion of the work?
  • Explain a scenario where you were under a lot of pressure and how you handled it.
  • Tell me about a difficult situation at work and how you managed it.

What have you done in the past when a team member did not complete their portion of the work?

This question is a chance for you to show some of your best qualities. Think of a situation in the past where a coworker did not help as much as needed. However, you should always talk about the situation in a positive way. For example, you could state that you used your communication skills to ask them if there were any challenges you could help them with. You may also have used leadership skills to assign tasks to other coworkers.

Explain a scenario where you were under a lot of pressure and how you handled it.

The manager likely knows there will be times when you have shorter deadlines and a heavy workload. Your answer to this shows how you manage stress. You could talk about the actions you took and explain how they helped you. For example, you might say that you find using a calendar with a daily task to be one of the best ways to get everything done by the deadline. You might also mention the value of communicating with other team members to make sure you are working together toward the same goal.

Tell me about a difficult situation at work and how you managed it.

The employer may want to know whether your actions for handling difficult situations are similar to what they expect for their employees. You can give an example of several delays that occurred in a project and point out that you thought of solutions to ensure the project met its deadline.