Jim Grant's Blog

Help for Job Seekers – It's all about the process!

How to Respond to Behavioral Interview Questions

The evolution and maturing of the recruiting process by internal  HR Departments has been making behavioral interviewing far more common. You are very likely to  encounter it when you are interviewing with larger employers and when you are interviewing with HR people. Hence, you need to recognize when you are in a behavioral interview and know how respond.

Behavioral interviews have a particular characteristic. You will get questions about how you handled things, particularly yourself. The questions almost always start with the phrase “Tell me about a time when you ……….” More times than not, it will be HR people who ask these kinds of questions. They are commonly trained in this form of interviewing, although the time will come when a hiring manager will ask you a behavioral type question. Behavioral interview type questions don’t require detailed knowledge about the specific job opening. These questions can apply to almost all jobs.

There is another common characteristic of behavioral interview questions. The good news is that there is a formula for what an appropriate response looks / sounds like. The HR people know what this is. They’re listening for it.  They have forms to fill in the elements of the answer to confirm that it was complete. Here’s the formula. Problem. Action. Result. In other words, in your answer, you need to describe the problem, the action that you took, and the result that occurred because of your action. To help you remember the formula, think PAR, for Problem, Action, Result.

There are many, many different behavioral interview questions, so they are difficult to anticipate and, hence, difficult to develop answers for in advance. About the only thing you can do is mentally review many of the events in your job experience, make them fresh in you mind, and use them in an answer to a behavioral interview question.

Nevertheless, you need to practice to get the hang of responding to a question with a PAR.

Below are examples of behavioral interview questions. Try a couple and formulate a response.

  • “Tell me about a time you solved a problem.”
  • “Tell me about a time you were innovative.”
  • “Tell me about a time you had to fire someone.”
  • “Tell me about a time you made a big mistake.”
  • “Tell me about a time you disagreed with your boss.”
  • “Tell me about a time you recognized one of your employees for exemplary work.”
  • “Tell me about a time when you were confronted with a problem and had no idea how to proceed.”

February 8, 2010 - Posted by | All, Interviewing

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