“The most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation.” That’s the conclusion industrial psychologists came to when developing the behavioral style of interviewing. Many companies use this technique in varying degrees. Instead of asking:
– Tell me about yourself.
– What are your strengths and weaknesses?
– Why are you interested in working for us?
Behavioral interviewing emphasizes past performance and behaviors. Not preparing for this style of interview can take you out of the running. A word to the wise: simply practicing the list of common interview questions isn’t enough.
Why should your prepare for a behavioral interview?
– Candidates who prepare for behavioral interviews also do better in traditional interviews.
– Using behavioral answers works well with inexperienced, traditional interviewers.
– Companies that invest the time and energy to develop behavioral interviews attract top candidates.
How do I prepare for a behavioral interview? Employers have analyzed exactly what skills they require for the position. These skill sets might include decision-making and problem solving, leadership, motivation, communication, interpersonal skills, planning and organization, critical thinking, team building and the ability to influence others. Job seekers also must go through this same detailed analysis process. To do that, you should consider questions such as:
– What are the necessary skills to do this job? Do I possess them?
– What makes a successful candidate? How can I translate my previous successes to this position?
– What would make an unsuccessful candidate? What criteria could eliminate a candidate?
– Why is this position available? Promotion, left the company, expansion?
– What is the most difficult part of this job? Have I handled similar situations and what stories do I have to express my success?
Once you have landed the interview, make your answers and examples detailed and specific. You should have developed three stories that illustrate accomplishments and successes in your past performance, remembering the interviewer will be focused on the assertion that “past performance in a similar setting is the best predictor of future performance.”
The best way to accomplish this is to use the 3C Technique:
1. Circumstance (What was the problem?)
2. Conduct (How did you fix it or how did you get others to fix it?)
3. Conclusion (What was the result?)
For example, you might recount a time when communication within your work group had broken down (circumstance). Organizing lunch meetings designed to open the discussion of issues was a creative step toward resolving the problem. It inspired a more congenial atmosphere and resulted in a better flow of communication. Using this technique can present your accomplishments in a way that sends a powerful message to the employer.
While you can’t control what is asked, you can control what you say. Listen carefully to each question. If you are unsure, ask for clarification. When you respond, be sure to recall your accomplishments in detail. Avoid lengthy rambling and tangents. Practice your behavioral stories using so they sound natural, not rehearsed. No one knows your accomplishments better than you do. Be confident about sharing them, enthusiastic about the results and proud to be able to bring these kinds of successes to a potential employer.