Behavioural interviews were introduced in the 1980s by industrial psychologist, Tom Janz. They are often tricky and statistics show that 30% of employers ask behavioural interview questions. If you are ready to make the career changes you desire, this article will show you simple yet powerful ways to outshine your competitors at behavioural interviews.
1. Be a STAR – Whilst preparing for the behavioural interview, do remember that interviewers want to hear thorough descriptions of past events. To effectively answer questions at the behavioural interview, one must incorporate three vital components (as denoted by the abbreviation STAR): the Situation or Task you were involved in, the Action(s) you took in order to make changes and the Result(s) that were achieved by those actions. For instance, if asked to narrate how you turned an angry customer into a happy one, it is not enough to say that you apologised to the customer. You must describe what led to the customer’s dissatisfaction, how you stepped into the situation and how, as a result of your timely intervention, the customer who was previously threatening to take his business elsewhere happily purchased new products and services from the company.
2. Loosen Up – Try not to base all your examples on the things you’ve done well at work. If you are a talented musician, say so at the interview. If you are a former Olympic contestant who climbed Mount Everest barefoot, let your interviewers in on the secret too. If you’ve written a book, bring an autographed sample copy or two along. Honestly, employers are desperate to interview (and subsequently hire) highly talented candidates. Be interesting if you want to stand out amidst the dozens of candidates who claim they can do the job. Frankly speaking, it is not enough to get the job done; one must also bring valuable talents to an organisation. If you want to make a good impression, show off your star qualities to advantage. Varying your narratives will also enhance your credibility because capable people tend to put their talents to work in their everyday lives – not just within the four walls of an office. For example, if you are an effective time manager during working hours then you should be demonstrating those time management skills at home also.
3. Practice Makes Perfect – Practice likely behavioural interview questions with the help of family and friends, co-workers and career counsellors, mentors and managers. Anyone can offer helpful ideas. If possible, get your current line manager to go through likely questions with you as he or she is likely to know what hirers look out for in a candidate. Who knows, your boss might even be an expert behavioural interviewer.
4. Be Confident – Even the most talented actors and actresses experience stage fright so it’s natural to feel a little nervous before your behavioural interview. A good way to keep calm whilst waiting for the interview to begin is by focussing on the talents and activities you enjoy tremendously e.g. singing, painting, or playing golf. Smile when you enter the interview venue, look your interviewers in the eye and shake hands firmly too. It’s a great idea to foster rapport by making light conversation. For instance, ask your interviewers what talents and activities they enjoy in their spare time and draw emphasis on common interests during conversation. Remember that people respond more favourably to those who are like them and behavioural interviewers are no exception.
5. Listen Up – Make sure you listen to each question carefully and stop to think before you answer. For instance, many behavioural interview questions are multi faceted i.e. one question comprising of many sub parts. For example: ‘What do you do when priorities change quickly? Give one example of when this happened’ OR ‘There are times when we work without close supervision to get the job done. Tell us about a time when you found yourself in such a situation and how things turned out’. If you fail to listen attentively, you may forget to answer certain parts of such questions! A good way to keep track is by discretely holding out multiple fingers before attempting multi faceted questions, dropping a finger after each sub-question has been answered.
6. Speak Up – Speak clearly and confidently, in keeping with your natural style. For instance, if you are a slow talker don’t try to talk fast just because you want to sound really keen on the job and if you are the serious sort don’t try to be funny either. Maintain eye contact with your interviewers throughout the behavioural interview as this will make you come across as honest, confident and intelligent. Just be your best self and you’ll make a positive impact at the interview.
People who have taken the time to find hidden talents and discover their purpose in life usually find behavioural interviews easy. By passionately communicating how your talents, skills and behaviours benefit your prospective employer, you can put yourself miles ahead of your competitors and make the career changes you desire.