Has this ever happened to you? You’re being interviewed for a position and it’s going pretty well until you get asked, “Give me an example when you had to persuade a co-worker to see things your way.” Or, what about this, “Tell me about a time you set a goal and what was the outcome?” Talk about putting a candidate on the spot!
More employers are conducting behavioral interviews to screen applicants. Part of the interview may consist of these types of questions or the entire interview may revolve around questions that start out with, “Give me and example…” “Tell me a specific time…” or “Describe a situation…” Behavioral interviews reveal more about candidates than just what employers see on paper. Yes, these interviews can be nerve-wracking and difficult at times, but you can give good responses if you keep a few things in mind.
Tips for the Candidate:
Be Prepared. Planning out what you say will result in better answers. You’re not going to know exactly what’s going to be asked but a lot of behavioral questions tend to focus on problem solving, handling stressful situations and dealing with disagreements among co-workers. Have some examples ready before the interview.
- Little White Lie. A fib, a white lie, whatever you call it, don’t do it! Lying leads to mistakes and let’s face it, lying is hard to do in an interview and most employers will know when you’re not being honest with them.
- Shorten It Up. Omit things that present you in a negative way. If you have to reveal a situation where you made a mistake, explain how you turned it around or what you learned from it. We all make mistakes and employers know that. It’s what we’ve done since the mistake that employers want to know.
- Think it Over. Don’t blurt out the first thought that pops in your head. It’s okay to pause and think about what you will say so you don’t find yourself rambling on and on to answer the question.
Tips for the Employer:
- Do/Don’t. Employers should also follow guidelines when conducting behavioral interviews. This style of interviewing should be used to gain information, not intimidate the candidate or present a power trip.
- Plan. Just as applicants should plan out their answers, employers should also plan out the questions they’re going to ask. The right questions could lead to some surprising answers that could result in a “Congratulations, you got the job,” or “Sorry, we found another candidate who is a better fit.”
- Communication. Remember that an interview is a conversation. It’s important to create a rapport between you and the applicant. Know when to dig a little deeper and know when to be silent.
- Wrap it Up. After the interview, take the time to review your notes and evaluate the interview while it’s still fresh in your head.
So how do you know the candidate you chose is the right fit for your organization? Interviewing applicants is just part of the process obtaining good talent. Here are some other tips to keep in mind.
- Training. To make better hiring decisions, managers need to be properly trained on what to watch for during an interview like interpersonal skills, communication, etiquette and legal do’s and don’ts.
- Instincts. Sometimes you just have to go with your “gut feeling.” No amount of training can teach you that. The more you rely on it, the easier it becomes.
- Verbal and Nonverbal. Pay attention to the little things that say a lot like the initial handshake, which could set the tone for the next 45 minutes. Make not of the applicant’s overall appearance. Was the candidate dressed appropriately? Showing up in jeans or having a sloppy appearance doesn’t convey to the interviewer your seriousness for the position.
- Don’t Let a Good One Go. Don’t miss out on a talented employee just because they may be lacking a few technical skills. That’s where the “gut feeling” comes in again.
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