Sunday, May 6, 2012

Behavioral Interviews: Three Steps to Great Answers

Here is another article contributed by my friend Deborah Walker, career coach.  This is great advice and so I am delighted to be able to pass it along here on the bridge. 

Some of the most challenging interview questions are found in behavioral interviews which are designed to test your abilities in three ways:

  1.  Determine how well you work under pressure
  2.  Find out how well you work with others
  3.  Establish whether you can resolve conflicts

Sample Interview Questions

To test your stress-coping skills you may get a question like:
 "Tell me about the most stressful situation you’ve encountered in your current position.”
To find out how well you work with others you might be asked:
 "Tell me about a time when you strongly disagreed with your team?”
 "Tell me about a time when you thought your boss was wrong?  How did you handle it?"

Finally, employers want staff members who can resolve conflicts to gain win-win results for all parties. To discover your conflict-resolution skills you might be asked:
 "Tell me about a time when you had difficulty resolving a customer conflict?”

There are three steps to preparing for a behavioral interview.

1. Behavioral questions ask you about specific events. Take inventory of the stressful or difficult situations you've encountered at work.  Think back to times when you didn't agree with your boss, or when your peers drove you crazy, or when customers made unrealistic demands.

2. If the workplace doesn't provide much to choose from, expand your thought process to include other circumstances where you work or must cooperate with others, like community activities, neighborhood associations, or church functions. For instance, planning a school fundraiser, participating on a neighborhood committee or participating on a professional association board.  Any of these situations are ripe with opportunities for conflict and cooperation, where something must be accomplished for the betterment of the group.

3. Once you've thought of several situations, plan how you will present them in a positive light. For situations you didn't handle well (like your boss yelled at you and you ran off crying) present them in terms of what you learned, like this:

   "Yes, I learned an important lesson about following directions and asking questions for clarification when ..."
For situations that did turn out well, present them based on what was accomplished, like this:

   "Yes, I had to deal with a really angry customer just last week. But when I calmly asked a few questions I was able to get to the heart of her issue.  I was able to fix the problem, and she was happy with us again."

With the right interview preparation, you can turn nightmare behavioral questions into opportunities to sell yourself.  You’ll be seen as an employee who is able to stay calm under pressure, work well with others to promote corporate goals, and retain key customers, contributing to revenue growth.  In other words, the type of person all employers would want to hire.

Captain Joe

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