behavioral interview questionsThere are a lot of interviewing techniques out there. There is debate on which techniques are the most effective. There is a body of research that say that no matter what questions you throw at a candidate, you can’t determine their true potential for a position in a short interview. A well-qualified candidate with all the skills necessary to pull off a great tenure at an organization can come off as nervous and incompetent while someone much less qualified can talk circles around the interviewers. Behavioral interview questions are designed to dive deep into a candidate and help the company determine if this person is a good fit.

Some behavioral psychologists and recruiters have managed to figure out questions to really probe the potential of a candidate. These questions relate to past behavior in order to determine how a candidate handled a certain situation. The idea is to get them thinking on their feet and to put them in a situation which allows them to access the best parts of themselves from their past.

Behavioral interview questions help provide some insight in to the candidate’s mind as to their natural abilities to problem solve and be productive. Here are a few examples of those questions and suggestions on how to answer them.

Tell Me About a Time when you set a Goal and met it

This is a common enough question which pops up in questionnaires and online quizzes for jobs and internships. It’s supposed to put the candidate on a spot where the choice is to only think of a time when they were dedicated and committed to achieving something.

The question is meant to extract information on what a candidate considers a goal worthy of their time and effort as well as what they are prepared to do for that goal, if it is worthy enough. If the example you give is something simple or trivial like passing a small class test, you better have a great story to tell, and if you give a great example like getting in to a university, winning a state or national level competition, or even running for a position at your school, you better have an even better story.

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Tell Me About a Time when you set a Goal and did not

Now this is a little tricky. It asks you to talk about a part of your past where things didn’t work out in your favor. In this case, it’s best to talk about something that was very important to you, but you didn’t manage to pull it off. It’s best to go with achievements that were made impossible through some hardship that you weren’t in the best place to overcome.

It’s also great to tell the interviewers how you learned from this experience. Don’t make it a sob story, but do make it count.

What did you like about your Last Job?/What was your best/worst job ever and why?

These questions are put out to gain insight in to your feelings about previous employment. They can show whether you were a model employee, whether you were focused, dedicated, determined, brilliant and motivated, and they can also show if you were a bad egg, lazy, non-ambitious and not driven.

For the first question, you should describe why exactly you liked doing the job. If you didn’t much like it, you could talk about certain good days you had on the job and why they were good in the first place. You could also talk about certain times of the day you looked forward to in your job and why they were significant.

For the last two questions you needn’t think too much. If you have been working for various people, you can answer these questions pretty easily. However, don’t put the answers down to whether you liked or hated your bosses or fellow employees. The organization needs to know that you’re a team player.

Focus instead on the work itself and how you felt fulfilled or not, whether you enjoyed the work and why you did or not.

Have you ever had a Difficult Client? How did you handle the situation?

Working for companies that have a lot of interaction with their customers is inevitable today. This question is meant to focus on your ability to handle pressure and generally bad people that come your way. Human beings are a mix of good and bad. Some are good people in general situations but turn sour whenever they interact with someone from the service industry or someone from a company they aren’t happy with.

You can point to a time that you calmed down a client or a time where you kept your cool when a client or a customer lost theirs. Your job is to demonstrate that you can keep your cool under pressure and that you followed procedure and did everything necessary to keep that client’s business.

How did you get in to this Industry? Why is this Job Perfect for you?

This is about passion and drive, plain and simple. More than anything else, companies are looking for driven and passionate individuals that can get the job done. If you express interest in your field and tell a compelling story about how you first arrived at the decision to pursue a career in said field, you might as well consider the job yours.

The second question though, is a bit more specific. You may quote research that you’ve done, or your experience working at a similar position to justify your interest in said position, but you truly need to show that you are the right fit for that position with this answer. If it’s a leadership position, talk about how you’ve led various groups of people in projects. If it’s a small position with much needed individual input, talk about your incredible work ethic and mention that you’ve completed projects on your own without much help or any help at all.

Interview Answer Tips

Practice these answers before going to the interview and ask someone close to give you some honest feedback. Study the organization’s philosophy and mould your answer according to that philosophy. You can even change words to steer the meaning in a certain direction.

Last but not least, think on your feet. Learn to answer questions sprung on you by complete strangers. This is a skill that can only be perfected through practice and team, so whenever you give an interview, learn something.

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