Behavioral interviewing tip #2: Prepare stories from your career based on the job description for the position you want

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Behavioral interviewing tip #1: Use results to demonstrate past successes

At Key Corporate Services, we work with our client companies to identify behaviors required for success in an open position and create original behavioral interview questions and scoring criteria. Then we hold the actual interviews to find the most qualified candidates and save our clients time in the interviewing process. In short, we have a lot of experience on which to base our tips! And we’d like to help candidates be better prepared for behavioral interviews, as that benefits both them and our clients.

It is difficult to “game” a behavioral job interview when the interviewer is well trained and the interview itself properly constructed–but it is all too easy to go into the interview unprepared. Too often qualified candidates have difficultly recalling their career histories in any detail or relating their past successes to the interview questions. Of course, our job as interviewers is to help interviewees be at their best, since if they have what it takes, we definitely want to know for the sake of our client. Yet we cannot do all the work for interviewees. Preparation is key.

And that brings us to today’s tip. As the name “behavioral interviewing” suggests, it’s all about behaviors. The stereotypical behavioral job interview question starts off with, “Tell me about a time when….” The interviewer is going to want to know about the times you solved problems, pursued new opportunities, formed productive relationships–or did the opposite of these things. Your behaviors in past jobs are a good indication of what your behaviors will be in a future job.

Thus, it helps to look at the job description for the position in question and match stories from your career to each requirement. For example, if it is a financial position that requires the preparation of financial statements, you could use a story about a time you were preparing financial statements, discovered errors, and saved your company some money and embarrassment. If it the position requires you to interface with a subsidiary and you do not have exactly that type of experience, you could relate how you did something similar, such as building a stronger relationship between departments or with a supplier.

Good preparation is the key to making your experiences relevant to the questions, even if they are not an exact fit. What isn’t good is taking the first experience that comes to mind and forcing it to match the question–a sign of an unprepared interviewee! Want to be even better prepared? Write your stories down and practice speaking them out loud. Doing so will really help bring your memories back to life, and you’ll remember more details and be much more fluent when it comes time for the interview itself.

Of course, there will be questions that catch you by surprise. As Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” In other words, planning makes you ready for the unexpected. We try not to make our interviews like “battles,” but we do encourage interviewees to think! Follow the tip in this post, and you will truly be ready to do your best.

The Key Corporate Services Blog Team