Monday, January 21, 2013

Nail the Behavioral Interview

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It used to be that you would walk into an interview knowing that there were four or five questions that you could expect to have asked of you. Then, you could effectively plan ahead for how you were going to answer them. Those included:

• Tell me about yourself and your experience.
• What is your greatest accomplishment?
• Are you a team player?
• What is your greatest weakness?
• What makes you best for this position?

But this isn't necessarily so any more. The new war for talent continues to take shape with the mass exodus of Baby Boomers from the workforce, and interviewers are finding it necessary to get creative with their interview skills in order to hire the right person-not only for the specific task or position, but also for their company. Behavioral interviewing is one such tactic that is helping organizations ensure they can find an individual with the right cultural fit, morals/ethics, well-roundedness, leadership, AND the ability to accomplish the tasks at hand. In a nut shell, it is all about identifying the key competencies in the candidate through questions that dig deeper by asking he/she to summarize instances when he/she employed specific competencies in his/her professional career. Such questions begin with, "Tell me a time that..." or "Explain a situation in which you..." Although they can be harder to predict than those listed above, there are still ways in which a candidate can effectively prepare. The easiest way is to make sure that there is a firm understanding of the job description and required competencies needed to qualify for the position. Then, using that knowledge, you can formulate a list of the possible areas that an employer might delve into using behavioral questions. For example, if you are interviewing for the position of marketing director, areas of competency can logically be deduced to: leadership, communication, dealing with different types of employees, and creativity.

Areas of Interest
Below is a list of eight possible areas of interest to employers and a related behavioral question for each.
Problem Solving Skills
-"Tell me about a situation where you faced a particularly tough challenge, how you overcame that challenge, and the outcome."
Leadership Challenges
-"Recount a time when you had to deal with a difficult employee. What tactics did you use and what became of that employee?"
-"Describe your personal communication style using an example of how you have dealt with peers/subordinates in your last position."
Organization and coordination
-"Tell me about a time when you had a client change a due date on a project and you had to rush to complete it. How did it make you feel/how did you react?"
-"Describe a situation in which you foresaw a potential opportunity and took advantage of it upfront. Or one in which you used that opportunity to create an action or strategic plan for the team which served as betterment to the organization."
-"Can you tell me about a time when you went outside of the box to solve a problem or meet a client's needs in which the situation required you to be creative with your solution?"
Goal Orientation
-"Tell me about your goals for the next five years. Include where you see yourself and how you expect to achieve those goals."
-"Was there ever a situation in which you were far into a project and there were factors that required you to change direction and take another approach? Was it easy for you to adapt and make the necessary changes?"
The very best thing you can do is think broad and then narrow down your scope to job-specific components. By planning in this manner, you can effectively prepare yourself for a winning interview and help eliminate the chances of being caught off-guard.


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