Professional Partner Content

3 Behavioral Interviewing Tips

1. Make a list of the top skills or qualifications from the job description.
When you’re preparing for your interview, start by looking at the job description. The job description should give you a sense of what’s most important to the hiring manager and company—that is, what interviewers are most likely to ask you about or look for in your answers. Prepare to highlight your most relevant qualities and qualifications. This might include skills or experiences, but it could also be why you want to work for the company or how you represent their values.
For example, if the company is looking for a self-starter, you might want to be ready to talk about a time when you took initiative at a past job. Or if the job description mentions data-driven decision making, using data and data analysis, come prepared to speak about how you’ve analyzed data in the past and what results you achieved. Jot down some specific numbers so you’re ready to give the interviewer a full picture of something you’re likely to be asked about.

2. Prepare answers to sample behavioral interview questions using the STAR format.
After reviewing the job description, brainstorm possible behavioral questions. Then, practice structuring your answers in the STAR format. STAR is an acronym that stands for Situation/Task, Action, Result. The behavioral examples you provide in an interview should have all three elements.

Here’s an example of a STAR format response:

  • “I was part of a team working on a complex project. When the project fell behind schedule, everyone started blaming someone else. (Situation/Task)
  • I called a meeting, and by focusing on the facts, I persuaded the team that we needed to stop attacking one another and address the issues that were stalling the project. (Action)
  • When we focused on those issues, we came up with a plan that rescued the project, and we completed it on time.” (Result)

Also, remember that a behavioral example in the STAR format should be no more than two to three minutes long (depending on the question). You’ll also want to deliver your example with energy and enthusiasm.

3. Practice aloud.
To make sure you are fully prepared for behavioral questions, practice your answers in the STAR format out loud. This exercise gives you a chance to time the length of each answer so that it’s not too long or rambling. Practicing out loud also helps you to memorize the example so you can recall all the details during the interview.

In addition, memorizing examples should help calm your interview nerves and avoid conversational fillers like “umm” and “err.” If possible, have someone ask the behavioral questions and listen to your responses to check for clarity and ensure you cover each component of the STAR format in your examples.

A Few More Behavioral-Based Interview Tips
Prepare questions you want to ask the interviewer ahead of time. Sometimes it can be hard to think of questions as soon as the interviewer asks, “What questions do you have for me?” Be sure to prepare in advance a list of questions you might want to ask the interviewer.
Also, research your interviewer. If you know the name of the interviewer, look them up on LinkedIn. You might find that you have something in common with them. Maybe you’re from the same hometown, went to the same college, or belong to the same professional association. Bringing this up during the interview can help you establish a connection and show that you are well prepared.

For more behavioral interviewing tips, including common questions, read DDI’s blog.

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