Behavioural Interviews – Top Strategies for Serious Career Changers

Behavioural interviews can be the career changer’s worst nightmare. Rather than ask how you would handle a specific situation, behavioural questions predict your future behaviour by examining past and present behaviours under similar circumstances. Since being introduced in the 80s by an industrial psychologist named Dr Tom Janz, at least 1 in 3 recruiters make use of behavioural interview questions. This article shares simple albeit powerful steps by which people seeking to make career changes can answer behavioural interview questions successfully.

1. Define Career Goals – It is crucial to first of all define what you want to achieve from the behavioural interview. Are you aiming for an average performance or do you dare to be outstanding? Are you seeking valuable interview experience or are you prepared to make serious career changes? Does the role fit in nicely with your long term career goals or will it merely be a stopgap? Before you start preparing in earnest for the interview, you should first establish what you want to achieve career wise.

2. Snoop Around – Interviewers are searching for multi talented individuals with behaviours and skills that will add real value to their organisations. They provide ample clues via job adverts and provide information on demand through special career advisors. Before the behavioural interview, arrange to spend some time at the recruiting department so you can get a feel of the new role. Learn more about your prospective employer by researching the company website and interacting with its long time employees for instance.

3. Master the Ad – Observe the language style of job ads. A humorous style hints at a laid back organisation whilst old fashioned firms are more likely to use serious language. Read the job advert at least five times then get a pen and create three separate columns on a sheet of paper. In the first section, write down all the skills and talents required for the job, in the second section write the behaviours required of you (e.g. ambitious, friendly, eager to learn etc) and in the third section list your prospective employers cherished values.

4. Play Pretend – You will fare well with behavioural interview questions if you can first put yourself in the prospective interviewer’s position. Imagine for a second that you are the person conducting the behavioural interview. Would you hire yourself? What sort of candidate would you want to interview? What talents and attributes would you find relevant to the job role? Write down your thoughts and ideas on a separate sheet of paper and incorporate these perspectives into your interview preparation.

5. Dig Deep – Before attending your behavioural interview, take time to find hidden talents and discover your purpose in life. Employers love behavioural questions because they reveal talents and behaviours that interviewees may not even be aware of. E.g. By narrating how you managed difficult co-workers, you are indirectly demonstrating excellent people skills. However, interviewees who know themselves to be talented people managers will prepare case studies that showcase their people management skills to maximum advantage. Greater self awareness also enhances confidence.

6. Get Clued Up – Go back to the lists of desirable talents and behaviours and tick off the ones you genuinely possess. Reflect on your career history, paying mind to the ways you have demonstrated these talents and behaviours in the past. E.g. if adaptability is one of the desirable behaviours, ask yourself when you have had to adjust to changes over which you had no control. Rehearse possible interview questions relating to the talents and behaviours you copied from the job advert.

Behavioural interviews are a piece of cake for interviewees who take the time to find hidden talents, discover their purpose in life and establish short and long term goals. By passionately communicating how your talents, behaviours and long term goals benefit your prospective employer, you can put yourself miles ahead of your competitors and make the career changes you desire.