The Interview Coach: the Behavioral Interview

December 11, 2012 |

Question: How do you feel about feel about performance-based interviews?

Answer: Performance-based interviews are the same as behavioral-based interviews. As an interviewer this type of interview is seven times more effective than regular interview questions. Behavioral questions are seeking past behavior examples as an indicator of how you will perform in the future.

The difference between a behavioral question and other questions is what the question asks for. A behavioral question will be very specific. For example when asked, “Tell me about a time when you solved a problem,” the key words are “a time.” This answer calls for a “specific” example of a “specific” incident.

When traditional questions are asked they usually include the word “if.” When “What would you do if…” questions are asked you can use your imagination to come up with an answer. For example, “What would you do if you had a problem to solve?” The word “if” is the clue word that indicates the interviewer wants to hear your thought process – how you think through a problem. This question does not require a past experience example.

While preparation is important for every interview, it is essential to prepare for the behavioral interview. You must have examples or stories for anything you have claimed on your resume or that you say in an interview. 

One example would be, if you claimed you were very organized on your resume. A natural question for the interviewer would be: “Tell me about a time when you organized a project.” It is now your task to let the interviewer know that you have had success when organizing a project or event. In other words, prove what you said you did by providing an example.

 There are several methods and acronyms suggested for formatting your stories but the main point to remember is that any story has three key elements:

1. A beginning – “There was a time….”

 2. A middle – “The action steps I took were…”

 3. An Ending – “The end result was…”

 Stories should be interesting and full of action. Give the interviewer something to remember about you. A savvy interviewer will be able to hear skills from the stories and judge your behavior from your past actions. The more details and skills you can work into your story, the more convincing your story will be.

Preparing your stories before the interview will take the mystique out of behavioral interviewing and allow you to tell the success stories you want your interviewer to hear. Through your examples the interviewer will begin to get a clear picture of you and be able to decide whether you are the right person for the job based on your past experience and successes.

 Best wishes,
Carole Martin
www.interviewcoach.com

Job interview expert Carole Martin has been a prime contributor to our Veteran Jobs blog, and offers her advice to veterans and service members who have questions, general or specific, about tackling the civilian job interview process. Send Carole your questions at interviewquestions@interviewcoach.com, and moving forward, we’ll feature her answers in this blog.

About Ho Lin

Ho Lin is an editor at Military.com. His interests include naval history, the New York football Giants, and loud rock music.