How To Answer Behavioral Interview Questions

Behavioral interview questions are to judge candidates' personality and capabilities to handle stressful situations.

Behavioral interview questions are to judge candidates' personality and capabilities to handle stressful situations.

Behavioral interview questions form a vital part of any interview. Hiring managers love this section as they get a chance to judge if a particular candidate has the required skills and competencies for the job. It is a popular approach used by employers to assess an individual's experience and analyze his/her response to similar situations in the future. These are not meant to throw you off guard but can be the trickiest portion of the interview. As these questions are asked to get a glimpse into the applicant's conflict management capabilities and personality traits, you definitely do not want to create a bad impression in front of an interviewer. You should be composed while describing situations handled and give answers such to make a mark on the employers. Here are a few tips which will help in answering behavioral questions at an interview. 

Preparation is must 

Without adequate preparation, you are prone to making mistakes and will face difficulty in recalling the right situations and appropriate answers for such questions. If not prepared in advance for this section of an interview, you will definitely struggle to remember relevant situations and might end up answering the question with a lot of pauses or even go completely blank. In the worst case, you might portray yourself in a negative light or even cook up a story thus reducing chances of being shortlisted for the next round. Therefore, it is necessary to practice a few sample questions to refresh memory and build confidence for the interview. 

Understand the question first 

Even if you are excited to jump into answering the question, let the hiring manager complete the question first and listen to it patiently. Such types of questions tend to be vague and are usually long-winded to confuse the applicant. If not clear about the question, politely ask the recruiter to repeat it. Since these types of questions are going to judge how you managed stressful situations, it is important to interpret the question and come up with a concise answer.

Meticulously compile your answer 

Once the hiring manager has completed his/her question, take a few seconds to register what has been asked and recollect situations that sound similar to the conflict mentioned. Take ten-second break to frame your answer and phrase sentences for an effective response. As these questions are usually scheduled in the latter part of an interview, taking time to think about the past situations will give a much-needed break to the recruiter. When you ponder over the possible answer, he/she might appreciate this short time span to sip in coffee or water, or review your application or notes. However, do not take much time to respond to the question. Also, when answering, describe a relevant situation in three minutes in a story to catch the recruiter's attention and keep him/her engaged.

Do not deviate from your answer 

Even if you have handled numerous situations that are pertaining to the question and can go on citing them just to demonstrate your abilities, resist the temptation to describe all of them. Instead, follow a  'Situation-Task-Action-Results' (S-T-A-R) approach to frame answers. Focusing on only one situation will not only help in providing a concise and well-reasoned answer, but also in avoiding digressing from planned response. Also, be ready to answer follow-up questions that might be asked once after narrating your experience for a situation. 

While there is no correct or wrong answer to such types of questions, they are usually asked in an interview to test your presence of mind and see if the candidate can handle unexpected situations. By following the STAR technique for answering behavioral questions, you can project your credentials and personal accomplishments to the employer. 

Sandy D'souza is a freelance author and blogger, she is always eager to share her knowledge on various topics like resumes, career development and career change. Her significant contributions to BSR: Resume Examples has aided many aspiring job candidates and students to develop their careers. 

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