The Dreaded Behavioral Interview

If you are preparing for an interview, you may want to think about preparing some answers to what human resource professionals call behavioral interview questions. These types of questions are designed to find out how you would respond in certain situations and how you react under stress.

Some behavioral interview questions include: Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your supervisor; tell me about when you had to fire an employee; describe a project where you had to work as part of a team; how do you handle complaints your employees have about other co-workers; describe a situation where your work goals were set too high.

While you cannot prepare answers for every single behavioral question out there, it is important to think about what skills the question is addressing and to tailor your answer to show you have that skill whether it is adaptability, team work, listening and problem-solving skills or communication skills. The interviewer is looking for answers that show you have valuable skills that the company can use.

A behavioral interview can be a good tool for ferreting out a candidate’s skills and work behavior. However, it does not always help a candidate determine if the company is a good fit for him or her. The interviewer can purposely come across as unfriendly and hard-to-read, making the interview a stressful experience for the candidate. If the interviewer is also going to be the supervisor, this can give a candidate second thoughts about accepting the job. A behavioral interview also does not give a candidate a good idea as to what type of supervisor the interviewer is going to be. Therefore, it is up to you as a candidate to make sure you ask your own questions to ensure that the position is a good fit.

Some of those questions may look like: If I am hired for this position, what is the most important thing I can accomplish for you in the first 60 days? As a supervisor, would you rather I interrupt you as I have questions or would you rather set aside dedicated time each day for questions? How do you handle front desk coverage during breaks and lunch?  Do you want informational updates via email or in person? Will I be collaborating with you on projects or just reporting back to you with status updates?

Think carefully about the job description and what interviewers are likely to ask. Also think about how you will go about carrying out the duties listed in the job description and your ideal interactions with the supervisor and co-workers. Then formulate your own answers and your own questions for the interviewer accordingly.