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Interview Preparation: The Dreaded “Behavioral Interview Questions”

In another decade, I found myself in need of a job. I landed an interview for what seemed to be the “perfect” job. I was familiar with the industry and had a great deal of experience and expertise in the required functions of the position.  I was set!  Or so I thought……

When I was introduced to the hiring manager and we began the introductory phase of the interview, I discovered that she and a former colleague of mine were good friends. This colleague had previously shared his interview strategies with me (as a hiring manager) and one of them included having the interviewee sing “Happy Birthday”.  At the time, I thought it rather silly and wasn’t sure what skills, traits or abilities that particular question was supposed to highlight in determining if the candidate was a good fit for the job.  While he qualified the desired outcome from the impromptu solo a cappella “audition” by saying that he didn’t care if they could sing– just that they would try, I never did find out exactly what trait he was looking for.  In my interview, we discussed him and his interview tactics, and she assured me that she was not going to ask me to sing.  I breathed a sigh of relief. And then she asked me “What superpower would you like to have?”

While I was relieved that I was not going to be asked to sing, I was still stumped and stumbled over my words while trying desperately to come up with an answer that would show me to be suitable for the position.  I finally came up with “The ability to transport myself instantly to other locations.”, but only after several very long and agonizing moments. It turned out that I was not the best fit for the job, nor was it the job for me.  But it reminded me of the importance of Behavioral Interview Questions and being prepared for them in advance of an interview.  So, let’s talk about some of these questions and what the interviewer is looking for in an answer from you. Thinking about these questions and your answers in advance, will help you to be prepared to give the interviewer the information that they need to fill the position.  Here we go:

  1. “Do you prefer to work alone or with others?
    • This question is designed to see if you are a good fit for the company culture and the working environment for the position.  Will you be able to acclimate quickly and accommodate working well with others as well as independently, on your own?
  1. “Tell me about a time when you “blew it” on the job and the outcome from how you handled it?
    • This question gets to the core of your conflict resolution skills and how you handle your human mistakes while respecting your coworkers.  The interviewer wants to know if you can acknowledge your mistakes and proactively seek resolutions for them. Are you a peacemaker and quick to seek inclusive resolutions or are you determined to assert that you were right?  In this case, you want to show that you can admit your mistakes, apologize and collaborate on a resolution.
  1. “Tell me about the worst manager you ever had and how you navigated them?”
    • Be careful about your negative comments about previous managers. Your interviewer has your resume, knows where you have worked, so your comments may not remain anonymous. In this situation, you want to highlight how you overcame the manager’s issues, while still focusing on getting the job/project done well and on time and without undue drama.
  1. “Tell me about a time you worked on a challenging team project?”
    • This question is designed to indicate whether or not you are a team-player and are adept at managing different personalities while achieving a specific goal. Are you collaborative?  Were you able to navigate through the issues and differences of opinions on solutions peacefully and productively?

These are just a few examples of the types of questions you may be asked at your next interview.  Take the time to ask yourself some of these challenging questions so you can be prepared with answers that show that you are not just a good fit for the position, but The Best Fit for the Job!

‘Till next time,