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How To Answer Behavioral Interview Questions

What are Behavioral Questions?

See Related: 8 Behavioral Questions Every Candidate Needs to Study Before an Interview

During a job interview, you will likely be asked a variety behavioral questions by the different people you speak to as you progress in the process. These questions are designed to extract hyper-relevant information about the candidate, specifically how they have handled tough real-life situations in the past that may also be encountered in the new role. They are used to reveal your personality, abilities, and demeanor.

Unlike traditional interview questions, behavioral questions call for concrete examples and draw on relevant experiences related to the job you’re interviewing for. How you answer them will highlight the relevant skills and qualifications that you have developed in your professional tenure that are relevant to the position.

Tips on Answering Behavioral Interview Questions

  • Do prior research on the company: As you get more and more interviews, you will notice that many interviewers will ask the same questions. Be sure to review commonly asked behavioral questions in advance and prepare well thought-out responses. Use free online resources like Glassdoor or LinkedIn to better understand a particular company’s interviewing process. You may even be able to read other people’s interview experiences in the past and even get to see what questions they were asked.

  • Prepare specific examples: To most effectively answer a behavioral interview question, you must draw from prior experiences. Think of specific times in your personal and professional history where you dealt with issues like adversity, conflict, achieving goals, collaborating on a project with a team, disagreements with colleagues, times where you showed leadership, and other experiences that can highlight a strength or something you’re proud of.

  • Build your answers based on the job description: Behavioral interview questions are important because they give the interviewers a glimpse into how you will handle certain situations that the job role will encounter. Be sure to review the job description in as much detail as possible. For example, if the job is asking for someone to be more tactically-minded and executional, make sure to tailor your answers to draw from experiences where you weren’t afraid to get your hands dirty and manually pull all the reports for analysis yourself.

  • Take your time answering: Once you are asked a tough behavioral type question during your interview, take some time to collect your thoughts and understand what the interviewer is asking. It’s okay to ask for some time to think about your answer and don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions if you don’t fully understand what the interviewer is trying to ask. This gives hints that you are organized, direct, and well-thought.

  • Use the STAR method: Learn about and use the STAR method when answering behavioral interview questions. STAR stands for situation, task, action and result.

    • Situation: What was the context around he challenges you were facing? Provide the relevant details.

    • Task: What was your role in addressing the challenges? How did you arrive at what you needed to do?

    • Action: What was the action that you and your team undertook to remedy the challenges?

    • Result: What did the successful outcome look like? Provide data-driven results and concrete examples of how things became better.

Related: How to Use the STAR Interview Response Technique

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