Behavioral Interviews
Effective Interviewing Guide

Behavioral interviewing is based on the concept that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. The interviewer wants specific examples of when and how you  demonstrated particular behaviors. The candidate must describe in detail an experience and how you dealt with this situation. In answering behavioral questions, you should strive to provide examples which best demonstrate that a particular positive behavior is Long-standing. Behavioral questions usually begin with:

  1. “Tell me about a time when you…”
  2. “Give me an example of a time when you…”

Prior to the interview each position is assessed for the skills/competencies and characteristics that relate to job success. Then interview questions are developed to probe in to each success factor. All candidates are asked the same questions and notes are taken to use in evaluating the candidates.

  • To prepare for each interview, review each job description carefully, identify the skills and traits most likely to be assessed. Next, formulate accomplishment “stories”  to  illustrate the skills and traits you are likely to be asked about.
  • Make sure that your stories follow the STAR format.  First, describe the Situation you faced. Then describe the Tasks that you felt needed to be accomplished. Third, describe the Actions you took. Finally, discuss the Results you obtained. Use only enough detail so that the interviewer can understand the degree to which you exercised your skills. Be prepared for questions asking about negative scenarios. When you answer these, add a fifth step, which is to state what you learned from the experience.
  • Develop two stories each for about 5 different skills so that you have enough to handle other skills that might be requested. You can always change a story slightly to highlight a different skill. Make sure your story is about a specific situation. Don’t say “Well I’ve used my leadership skills in a lot of situations.”

Sample Behavioral Interview Questions

The following are examples of three common MBA skills with corresponding questions and strategies for handling.

Communication Skills

Q: Tell me about a time when you had to present complex information to a customer or peer. How did you ensure that the other person understood?

Q: Tell me about a time when you successfully persuaded a group to use your idea?

A: Prepare a list of examples that stress your communication skills and develop accomplishment statements for each example. “In my position at Acme Software Co., I developed a user manual to accompany the product. I examined the best features from three top sources and adopted a very user-friendly format. After writing each chapter I conducted numerous checks and conducted a final test to ensure that the manual was highly readable and easy to update. The customer feedback has been excellent and sales are 10% above our projection.”

Analytical/Problem Solving Skills

Q: How do you gather information to analyze problems? Give me an example.

Q: What was the most challenging work or technical problem you ever encountered? What happened? What did you do?

A: Prepare examples of problems you have solved. For each, outline the main 5-7 steps involved in solving the problem, the alternatives you considered and results you obtained. Practice until you can relate the information naturally and conversationally.

Leadership Skills

Q: Tell me about a time when you influenced the outcome of a project by taking a leadership role?

Q: Describe your leadership style and give me an example of a situation where you successfully lead a group.

A: Review your past for an experience that involved working as part of a team and think about your role in facilitating, leading or contributing to the effort. Once again, use the accomplishment approach to describe the goal/situation, your contribution and the result.


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