How To Prep Well For A Behavioral Interview
Like a situational interview that asks specific sets of questions to help a hiring manager determine if you’re a good fit for a role within a company, a behavioral interview is interviewing based on discovering how you’ll respond to specific employment-related situations.
There are some distinct differences between a behavioral interview and a traditional interview. A traditional interview generally involves you being asked a series of questions that generally have straightforward answers. For example, a hiring manager might ask you to define your strengths or weaknesses. When you’re taking part in a behavioral interview, the hiring manger has determined what skills are needed for the open position and they will ask you questions that will help assess whether or not you have those skills. Basically, instead of asking you about how you’ve reacted in the past, they will ask how you’ll react in the future. During behavioral interviews, the questions asked of you tend to be much more pointed and projecting and much more specific than traditional interview questions.
For example, you might be asked to give an example of a goal you reached and how it was achieved. Or a hiring manager might ask you how you handle schedule interruptions or how you’ve worked on a team who was less than motivated.
Many people in the civilian sector struggle with behavioral interviews because they’re so direct and to the point. As a transitioning service member, you are a distinct advantage for a few reasons. Firstly, you have had experience working in a number of different units with different leadership styles and varying levels of camaraderie. Secondly, you have such a wide array of experiences that many civilian workers just don’t have, which makes it easy to identify situations that will be useful to highlight during a behavioral interview.
The difference here is that a behavioral interview will help an interviewer assess how your past behavior will help predict your future choices. Because you’re never going to know that you’re in a behavioral interview until it starts, it can feel overwhelming when you’re trying to prepare. The best approach is to work well on answers to traditional interview questions and have those ready. Remember that you should be able to answer traditional interview questions without leaning on a lot of military language. The vast majority of hiring managers aren’t going to understand anything military related and you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t take the time to translate your skills into everyday language.
During your behavioral interview, there’s a trick that you can use if you’re completely unsure of how to answer a question. Ask for clarification. Usually, a hiring manager will lead you in a bit with what they’re looking for when you ask for clarification. Then, make sure you include the STAR approach with your answer.
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. When you think about it in terms of STAR, then it will likely be easier for you to find a simple answer that is rooted in real-world experience. Identify a
situation, discuss the tasks that needed to be accomplished, the actions you took, and the results of your actions.
Since you’re never going to know the types of questions that might be asked during a behavioral interview, you can best prepare yourself by refreshing instances in which you know you’ve gone above and beyond. These special situations can help you frame your answers and serve as a springboard for answering behavioral interview questions well. So listen to the questions carefully, ask for clarification if needed, and be detailed with your answers.