The Behavior-Based Interview

Not all interviews are created alike. Over the course of a traditional interview, managers usually ask the person being interviewed to expound on their strengths and weaknesses, while giving them an opportunity to expound on many of the items in their resume.

But a behavior based interview is a bit different. Instead of the traditional strengths and weakness question and answer period, the manager will provide a series of different scenarios and situations and ask the person being interviewed how they would choose to handle those situations in a business setting.

This type of interview can be a jarring to a person who is more accustomed to a traditional method of interviews, but there are some things you should keep in mind in order to get through a behavior based interview with ease and confidence.

First of all, realize that goal of the behavior based interview is to help the hiring manager filter through the masses in order to determine the best candidates for the job. Many companies have experienced a type of "hiring remorse" after welcoming candidates who possessed flawless resumes full of top notch qualifications and stellar educations.

However, when these employees met the test of real life work situations and problems, they didn't perform as well as they were expected. Therefore, hiring managers have decided to get more insight into a persona's ability to truly stand up to the pressures of the job by presenting candidates with a series of hypothetical and real life questions during the interview phase.

Typical questions during this type of interview are often prefaced with phrases such as "Tell me about the last time you ______," "If ____ were to happen while you were at work," or "Could you tell me a story about how you handled ____ at your last job?"

Though job seekers are often cautioned against excessive speaking in traditional interviews, the behavior based interview necessitates that you speak a bit more than usual. In a behavior based interview, you must do your best to push through any nervousness in order to adequately answer the questions you are asked.

This is the time to provide clear, thoughtful answers concerning your thought process about handling a particular situation, while proving to the manager that you are not only mentally capable of getting a job done, but that you also possess the proper emotional skills to field tough and stressful situations.

To prepare for such an interview, spend some time taking notes of various situations you have handled at previous employers and make sure you know what's on your military transition resume. In addition, you will also want to be prepared to give examples from personal and social experiences.

Practice answering these questions by giving a concise explanation of the scenario, then following up with the direct action you took, along with a summary of the eventual results of your action. If applicable, end your story by adding in any positive feedback you received from others involved in the story, such as your boss, or friends and family members.

Though a behavior based interview can be different than what you are accustomed to, with some careful thought and preparation, you will be equipped to put your best foot forward in this type of interview.


Gail Esparan