It’s happened to the best of us. You’re in your interview, totally crushing it. And then you get a question like this: “Tell me about a time you had to overcome obstacles to reach your goal; what were the obstacles and how did you overcome them?” And you blank. These behavioral based questions can really catch you off guard. But with a little mental preparation, you’ll do just fine!
Why behavioral based questions aren’t like normal interview questions
In interview preparation, we often create a mental bank of commonly asked questions so we can have quick answers at the ready. These types of classic questions tend to be rather finite and straightforward. Behavioral based questions, on the other hand, represent a nearly endless list of possibility. This makes memorization of a bank of questions an unrealistic solution. Instead, I recommend that you focus on studying your resume.
What? Why would I read my own resume to prep for interviews?
At first, I know it sounds a bit odd. You wrote the resume so you already know what it says, right? However, can you look at the bullet points and elaborate upon experiences connected to each qualification and job duty listed? I know I can’t.
So here is what I’ve done in the past before interviews. I used my resume to create a bank of information that will satisfy a variety of questions. Instead of trying to anticipate which questions to practice, invest your time in creating an arsenal of pertinent work situations as the foundation of your interview preparedness. While this approach does not give you a memorized list of questions and answers, what you create will be a source you can draw from to tactfully apply your experiences to each behavioral question asked.
Another key behavioral tip
Also remember that interviewers want to know about a real situation and what you DID do, not about a hypothetical situation and what you WOULD do. If you provide hypotheticals, you did not answer the question. Correct answers will start off with things like, “One time, I had to …” Incorrect answers will start with things like, “When that happens, I usually handle it by doing…”
And just one more thing
Be true to yourself! Distorting behavior, preferences, etc. just to fit the needs of a particular position may end with a job offer, but you and your new employer will soon realize the lack of compatibility. In this situation, nobody wins. So yes, always put your best foot forward, but also be sure that your responses are a true reflection of you as a candidate so you end up in a positive, productive employment situation.