Behavioral Interview Questions are the New Normal.

Behavioral interview questions are becoming the thing you should expect when applying for a job. These types of questions help the interviewer in many ways, which cannot happen by simply looking at your resume.

Certain questions will allow them to hear how your conversation style is, and how you will sound speaking to their customers or partners.

Behavioral Interview Questions allow them to hear you tell a story and show them if you are calm and cool under pressure.

Finally, it allows them to see how your mind works:
How you arrive at a decision and what you feel is important when determining your course of action.

Don’t Be Afraid of Them

There is no need to be afraid or nervous when anticipating these type of questions, they aren’t that bad. The funny thing is, you are already prepared for them, and you have real life scenarios that will give them what they are looking for.

I have prepared countless team members of mine for interviews and I always tell them the same info I will share with you…

With a little prep and thought, you will crush these questions!

What to Expect

Many companies use behavioral interview questions, and while they come from different sources; the answers are generally the same.

You simply need to come to the interview with the answers prepared and be ready to insert them into the conversation. You won’t know what order they are in and they will use their company phrasing, but you are going to get the same setup one way or another.

The interviewer can see your resume. They are not going to ask you to “discuss a time when you programmed a computer” if you have zero experience with computers and this job is selling stationary.

They will try to find the question that fits into the your relevant experience AND what they do as a company.

Avoid the Biggest Mistake

The behavioral interview questions will always be asked in a similar form. It will be, “ Tell me time when you did X” as well as “tell me what YOU did and BE SPECIFIC with your example.”

The number one mistake that you can make is…

To answer with a general example, “we usually do X” or “I always try to help customers X”. This doesn’t give the interviewer any information about what YOU did in the scenario and if they will be able to trust you to think on the fly and make a quick, informed, decision if they made you a job offer.

The interviewer want’s a specific example, a real life situation, but when you give a general answer about your previous company’s philosophy, what the interviewer hears is, “I can’t follow directions.” You are applying to be a trusted member or the team, they need to know you can listen and follow instructions with a solid thought process. If you can’t execute on answering a question correctly, there is no way they feel comfortable putting you into real life scenarios on my sales floor. No way they feel comfortable HIRING YOU.

The Answers to the Test

The sales floor, call center or wherever your previous job was, is where you find the answers to the questions.

As I said before, the questions are always going to have the same goal and are looking for the same type of answer, they just have different wording.

Tell me about a time you had an argument with a coworker, what did you do to resolve it? Why did you do that? And how did it turn out?

This question is to determine how you handle conflict and how you will be when there is a conflict, will you be difficult to work with or open to compromise.

“Your boss tells you to talk to the staff about his decision to be open two hours later every day, and you are surprised to hear this was even an option. What are your next steps? How will you break the bad news to the team?”

Answering this tells the interviewer how you will deliver their directives. Will you push the ball down the hill and say it was “The boss’s idea” or will you own it, and deliver it with passion, supporting it even if you don’t agree? What about if your team disagree and challenge you?

Questions Fit the Environment

If you are applying at a company that deals with face-to-face customers, expect a question about a difficult customer you have dealt with.

Trying to get a job with a call center, anticipate a question about a customer using bad language and threatening you.

Are you going to be working on a team? You can expect a question about collaboration and how you make sure everyone has a voice. Answering this is as easy as telling them about your job at McDonald’s, how you all banded together on a Saturday when the drive thru speaker system went down and you all had to work together to ensure customers didn’t suffer.

Don’t think too hard about this, you have plenty of examples. You just need to find the goal of the question and fit one of your answers in there. As Nick has discussed in a prior post, everyone has core values, the interviewer has a responsibility to find people that will fit in with their mission and their core values.

Applying to Lead People

Leadership jobs will have even more detailed questions;

“How did you coach someone to be better than they were in the past?”

“What do you like most about being a leader, what do you like least?”

“Tell me about a time you had to write someone up, how did that conversation sound?”

“Let’s go thru an example of you coming up with a creative way to motivate your team, what did you do and what were the results?

The key to leadership behavioral questions is being prepared to discuss what the RESULTS were, what did your idea deliver? Did you see higher performance, more engagement, and higher energy or did it fail (don’t use an example with failure).

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

The key to all of this is to have several go to examples that can be used to answer multiple questions. I personally have an example of a difficult employee that can be used to answer a question about coaching someone, solving conflict and even helping someone to get on board with a difficult decision.

I also have answer for what I like most and least about being a leader. It’s about losing people that we like to have on our team and seeing them leave for a lesser quality company, after we put all the effort into getting them hired, trained, and empowered.

We will have more for you, including a worksheet, which will get you thinking of your “go to answers”. We will also have options to do mock interviews to help you anticipate what you will be asked. Nick and I have done thousands of interviews; with a little practice you too can rattle off your responses at the drop of a hat.

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