Imagine you’re sitting in a black swivel chair, filled with dread and terror. A flood of questions washes over you. The life-changing, hit-the-jackpot sort. The kind of behavioral questions that beg for perfectly tuned answers.
After all, you’re being interviewed for that job you’ve aspired to since… well, ever.
By default, the hiring manager has the upper hand. He will use that to test your fabric, to get an idea if you and your dream job are a perfect match. As expected, he will pop up the scary behavioral question:
‘Tell me about a time you stepped up into a leadership role.’
And your answer is…
If it’s a shrug of the shoulders, a confused ramble involving your six-year-old self and how you managed to outwit your little sister to more Nintendo time, or an unnecessarily long and unfocused story, then you’re in need of a plan.
After all, preparation is the mother of victory. With that in mind, here is a clear blueprint of how to craft job-landing answers to behavior-based interview questions.
How to Ace Behavioral Questions
Are You a Team Player?
Nothing is more important than the ability to work with others under challenging situations. After all, even the most solitary kind of job involves a degree of interaction and communication.
The employer will ask a general teamwork behavioral question like:
- Tell me about a rewarding team project that you worked on.
- What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
- Do you suffer from any misanthropic tendencies that I should know about?
This is your opportunity to highlight how well you collaborate and what flavor of eye candy you are.
Before your next job interview, brainstorm all the team projects that you remember. And filter accordingly:
- The more recent, the better.
- Choose an experience in which you really stood out as the hero.
- Keep it relevant. Don’t stray too much off the beaten path in search of originality.
Are You a Problem-solver?
If you own a track record in addressing challenges and engineering solutions, you can then outsmart the next tricky obstacle inquiries:
- Give me an example of a time when you came up with a new approach to an old problem.
- Describe the most creative work-related project you have completed.
- Can you remember an idea you came up with that proved to be both innovative and efficient?
This will prove almost an impossible question to answer on the fly. So, prepare a top of your greatest solution-finding hits and wow your future employer. Also:
- Don’t load your story with too much detail. Only provide information on a need-to-know basis, enough to set the background and attest to the difficulty of the problem you were faced with. Then highlight your involvement in it. Remember, this has to be a happy ending story.
- Be specific, not vague. Avoid language such as ‘I would do’ or ‘One should do’.
Are You Candid about Your Failures?
Although, to be fair, does it ever get easy to acknowledge failure? To add to the dilemma, what do you respond to a question meant to bring your faults to the table when an interview is all about presenting yourself in the best possible light.
‘Tell me about your failures.’
In the context of an interview, this behavioral question sounds paradoxical, and you might assume the employer is just aiming at your skeleton cupboard.
But give it a second thought and you might find a different rationale behind it. Can it be that a glimpse into your past failures, the way you conducted yourself in the face of defeat and the lessons you’ve drawn from your mistakes will reflect in future situations to come?
So don’t evade it. Choose a personal story with moral value, and answer truthfully.
After all, to truly excel in your job search, honesty is gold. If you don’t believe us, take this fellow’s example:
“I had a job interview at an insurance company once and the lady said ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ and I said ‘Celebrating the fifth year anniversary of you asking me this question’” – Mitch Hedberg
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