Different hiring managers have different interview styles. One common interview style, particularly for leadership positions, is the behavioral interview. At first the behavioral interview may seem intimidating and daunting because it isn’t based on facts that you can point to on a resume. Instead, it is designed to determine how you personally handle tough situations that come up at work. The good news is that you can prepare for this sort of interview. Here are some common topics and questions that can come up during a behavioral interview. Review them and then come up with your own answers from your personal experience that you can practice discussing before your next interview.
Managers want to know that the leaders they hire can handle conflict between employees and co-workers in a professional manner. To that end, you will likely have at least one question directed at your conflict-management skills. This can come in the form of an open-ended question, generally something along the lines of “What was the last conflict you encountered at work and how did you handle it?” Or more simply “Tell me about how you would handle a conflict at work.”
Tackle this question by first coming up with a good example that demonstrates your ability to stay calm and focused during a work-related conflict. Pick an example that makes you look good and stay specific. Generally worded answers such as “I always stay calm during a conflict” don’t aptly demonstrate your abilities. Stick to a straightforward format when answering the question. First, briefly describe the situation including any necessary background information such as your position at the time, any approaching deadlines, and anything else that provides context for the conflict. Then depict the steps you took to resolve the conflict. Finally, talk about what happened afterward. Ideally, your example should have a positive ending that reinforces your problem-solving capabilities.
Managers want to know that they’re hiring goal-oriented individuals who will lead the company into the future. Therefore, you may have a behavioral interview question aimed at finding out how you set and keep goals. The question will likely come in some rendition of “Describe a challenging goal that you set and how you worked to achieve it.” For this question, you’ll want to think about large goals that you have made and accomplished, along with goals that you have fallen short of reaching since the interviewer might be interested in hearing about how you handle unmet goals. The question might be geared specifically toward your professional goals, but the interviewer could also be interested to hear about how you work towards goals in your personal life.
This last example is a question that can really catch you off-guard during an interview if you aren’t prepared for it. You might be asked something along the lines of “Tell me about a mistake you made at work and how you corrected it.” This can be difficult to come up with on the fly, so be sure to have an example (or two) handy to talk about during the interview. You will want to focus more on the second half of the question, how you corrected your mistake, instead of dwelling on the mistake itself. Use the techniques listed above to tell the story of the mistake, including any necessary context, and then give detailed, specific examples of the steps you took to correct it. Your story should end with a happy ending of how things worked out along with what you did after the fact to make sure you didn’t make the same mistake again. Employers want to know that you are capable of learning from your mistake.
The behavioral interview, when executed well, gives the hiring manager a great overview of your skills and abilities. It tells employers far more about you as a professional and a worker than your resume can. Make sure you prepare for questions ahead of time so that you can clearly articulate your answers instead of fumbling around trying to think of an example. For more ideas on how to prepare for behavioral interview questions, contact us today.