What is a Behavioral Interview

People like to do business with people they like …

Behavioral Interviews

What is it? 

It is a style of interviewing used by hiring managers to determine whether or not a candidate is a good fit for a job.  They are typically looking for three things. 


Number 1 is content.  If you’re an engineer, for example -what degrees do you have; what experience do you have in engineering, etc.  Maybe they’ll ask some challenging questions about that.


Number two is functional… your ability to deal with others, how well you communicate, etc.  Will you function well in the environment?


Number three is self-management… how well do you handle yourself in difficult situations that may be adversarial; and how well you perform without constant management oversight.



To determine whether you have the skill sets they’ve identified, they’ll ask you a bunch of different kinds of questions.  The questions will be theoretical (what if type), like –‘what would you do if faced with this situation’; what if you were faced with ‘X’.


 Leading Questions

You’ll be asked some leading questions like ‘So, you’re alright with travelling out of town –is that right?” 



They will also ask behavioral questions like –‘Tell me about a time you faced adversity.’  Or, ‘Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.’  Or, -Tell me about a time when you had an issue with a co-worker.’


And, More …

Tell me about your weaknesses and how they’ve affected your work.

 Tell me about your strengths and how they’ve affected your work.

Give me an example of when you had to deal with a customer who is irate or upset. What did you do?


Don’t Tip Your Hand

The key to these interviews is to remain calm and to remember that you never change even if the interview questions do.  You are one package and it’s your responsibility to deliver that package in such a format that the hiring manager must realize it would be a mistake not to hire you.


Advance Planning

You have to think through these questions in advance.  There are tons of such questions all over the Internet.  Go through them and think in terms of the answer you could provide to these questions.

 Go through the different possible questions you might be asked, as in the ones shown above and think about how you’d package that answer.  Think about the experiences you have that are relevant to those.

 As an aside, if you need to take a little creative license in developing those stories, do it.  It must be believable.  You must be able to recount the experience in a masterful way.  It must be practiced and it must roll off your tongue.

 And, you must have 6-8 of them covering a range of scenarios about which you might be asked.  For more insight into answers and questions in a behavioral interview, see here: http://coverletterinterview.com/behavioral-interview-questions-and-answers



How would you deal with a customer who, when you arrive, is irate, won’t hardly look at you, will hardly speak to you?  You’re there to fix his equipment.

 This is where the S.T.A.R. technique comes in handy.  See here: CoverLetterInterview.com/The-Star-Interview


You’d respond in a manner similar to this:

First you would have to let the customer have an opportunity to vent his frustrations, see what’s going on.  I would never downplay his anxieties.  I’d be empathetic to his situation and make clear that I really understand his pain, that I’m on his side and I want to make it right.


After that, determine all the pertinent details about the problem equipment (or whatever the case may be) and take care of it.  Then ask all the good customer service questions to make sure the customer is completely satisfied.


Now you’re at a place where many people lose by not standing apart from the crowd.  If you can quantify a story in the manner that follows, you place yourself among the top candidates. 


Quantification Example

‘We had a customer who did $100k worth of annual business.  They were very upset.  Here’s what the problem was.  Here’s how I approached it.  


I got agreement from my employer to do such and such. I partnered with so and so to do ‘X.’ Then we were able to make (whatever) occur.  The customer was pleased to the extent that he referred another customer to us that was worth $50k in additional revenue.


Sales and marketing people are usually familiar with such numbers.  In some lines of work that are not so apt to be familiar with the numbers (because they’re not exposed to them), you need to make sure you think about them and use them in your answers.


Think about how to quantify profits that you helped the company make, losses that you may have helped the company avoid, the number of customers you were able to save, the number you were able to convert, and how often you were able to do that compared with your peers.


How Often?

If you did only five of these things and your peers only did three or four, you are significantly better than they are.  If you can communicate that, you’re showing that you did do those things and you can communicate it in a way that will be positive for you, positive for the company, positive for your career.


Your Turn to Ask

Follow up the preceding discourse with a question or two by you.


Do you understand?  Are you clear?  Do I need to clarify anything I’ve spoken of? Do you have any other questions? 


When you ask those types of questions at the end of the interview or at steps within the interview, you have packaged yourself.  You demonstrate you’re no different.  You’ve taken the time to package yourself in the way that the interviwer wants to receive that information.


If they are conducting this type of interview and you’ve given them this type of information, you have the right to ask them if you’ll be considered. Will you be continuing in the interviewing process?  What are the next steps and what can you do to continue forward in the interview process?


Remember that every interview, although they may be different styles, is really looking for one thing –for you to convince them to make you a job offer. 


You can do that through quantifying, through great examples, through thinking out what you’ve done in the past so you can package it for them in that interview.  

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