Any job in the current world is not about just technical skills. It is quite easy to gain the highest marks in academic examinations or prove your worth in operating a particular software. But being humans, there is much more we will need to deal with. One of them is handling stressful situations and being emotionally intelligent. Such capabilities are measured through behavioural interviews.
- Behavioural interview explained
- How to prepare
- Behavioural skills explained
- Common interview questions
What is a behavioural interview?
Behavioral interviews are a common way for recruiters to find out if their candidates are capable of handling stressful situations. The questions in such interviews focus on detecting their temperament and are set up to dig deep into their emotional intelligence.
This trend has been going on since the 1970s when companies like AT&T and Accenture included it in their recruitment processes. It was developed by the industrial psychologists of that era.
The main theme behind this procedure is – future performance depends on the past performance. Your decisions or to-do-lists of tomorrow will always rely on what you have accomplished today – either entirely or partially.
So the interviewers will try to note down your reaction, thought process and solution approach about the conditional situation provided by them. Almost every answer will demand you to pay a visit to your past and bring back the memory as a well-illustrated story. The facts and factors of your previous experiences will then help the recruiters predict how useful you will be for their company if a similar situation arises.
How to prepare for a behavioural interview?
1. Study the requirements
Similar to a normal job interview, you should start the preparation by studying the requirements first. For this, go back to the job description and figure out what specific behavioral remarks they expect from the candidate. Often there are mentions about particular personality traits or attitude the new job-holder should embody. All the steps following this point are dependent upon these traits or attitude. So study the job posting well to retrieve accurate information, since that will be the foundation of your whole preparation plan.
2. Mark the keywords
From the entire job description, there will be only a few keywords which can be the highlights of your preparation. The other aspects of this process will be centered around these very words. These can also be the main helping hands for you while formulating the answer in mind at the interview board. Implement as many of the keywords as possible within your answers. The interviewers will at least recognize your sincerity and dedication.
3. Make a list of matching skills
Depending on your list of keywords and other information you retrieved from the job description, you can now figure out which skills should be at the forefront of your preparation mission.
First, brainstorm a list of all the skills you already possess. Then draw connections between them and the keywords previously marked. Now you know how to relate one to the other while preparing the possible answers and examples.
4. Find appropriate examples
Consider all kinds of questions that may come your way during the interview. You will be told mostly to dig out a certain type of tough experience from the past and explain how you dealt with it.
To avoid spending a lot of time on thinking and trying to remember any such experience during the interview, prepare certain examples beforehand. So take a day or two to remember six to eight memorable situations you handled previously.
Half of them should have a positive tone from start to end, the other have can be stories which started out negatively and then turned positive because of your decisions. They don’t all need to be from one area of your life. Let them be based on different premises. Also, the more recent the example is, the better.
5. Prepare the stories
Go through each one as if you are reliving it to accumulate all the details of your thought process behind it. Here is the part where you need to add in the marked words and matching skills. They will be the showstoppers of those memory illustrations and the main objects of interest for the interviewers.
6. STAR technique
The STAR technique to answer questions at an interview is as well-known as the behavioural questions. In fact, it was made as a framework to craft the possible behavioural answers. The acronym STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. This is a method with which you can figure out the best possible answers and structure them in your mind, if not already prepared.
Start the answer or story with a brief description of the ongoing situation and context, like the time, place, involved people and other major information. Then go on explaining the task you had to handle highlighting its challenges. This could be budget issues, deadlines and similar constraints.
After that, talk about your role in the solution and what actions you took for it. Mix up the keywords and your related skills here such as leadership, listening, motivation, negotiation etc. Mention statistical and numerical information while talking about the results. It will help the recruiters quantify the effectiveness of your decisions.
7. Professional contacts
If you have professional contacts who are knowledgeable in this area, call them up asking for their valuable inputs. You can know what the recruiters would really look for in an interviewee from their practical experiences with the behavioural interview. They can specify the preferred skills and personal qualities a successful candidate usually owns. From this information, you can understand which of them to focus on during your answers.
8. Follow up
After the interview is over, you can do a follow up by saying thank you. If you didn’t say so in person, send them an email as a thank you note. Here you can reiterate your interest in their company and add in the things you missed out on saying during the interview.
A capable candidate must be good at making practical and effective plans to earn set goals. Depending on what goals to achieve, s/he should make a clear set of steps the team should take. There might be multiple issues at hand and s/he would need to make clear prioritization among them. Answers related to this skill should always begin with a complicated situation and end with a positive result highlighting your contribution to its success.
Communication sounds like an easy job with a very straightforward strategy – listen and respond! But in reality, especially in the job area, it can be a much more complex quality to have.
People with good communication have to watch their tone, body language, facial expressions and choice of words to make every sentence they say effective on the other party. There should be no ambiguity in what they have conveyed.
The team members working with this person should feel comfortable with discussing any confusion or emergencies with him/her without any hesitation. When one of the employees under his supervision does something great, s/he needs to congratulate and inspire that person to do even better in the future.
Any of these qualities can be highlighted in the incident you are going to illustrate for the recruiters sitting right in front of you. The main aim of your answer will be – you can communicate well enough to make the other person feel or know exactly what they should at that point.
3. Conflict Resolution
Whether you are working on a team or with a team, conflicts are inevitable. It can be between two colleagues, or a supervisor and his/her staff member. Since they involve different combinations of the power hierarchy levels, the approaches to their conflict resolutions should also be different. A capable employee would recognize that and take measures accordingly.
One thing you should never ever do at this point is completely ignoring the conflict. That will instill a sense of unreliability among both parties or encourage at least one of them to engage in more conflicts since they are not even recognized by the company.
So you would need to come up with a solution that does not do more harm to the relationship between two parties and maintains the same level of reliability and productivity among them.
Numeracy is your capability to make smart decisions based on numbers in real life instead of an academic test. This carries a lot of significance in almost all industries like advertising, news etc. You should know whether to use decimal, percentage or fraction for an easy and effective reading by the other party.
5. Balance of work and life
Here you need to highlight how much work pressure you can really handle and how much time you can invest here. Never say you will be available 24×7 because the recruiters will know that is not possible. Your answer should reflect how aware you are of your own limitations.
Being empathetic is very important when it comes to being a team leader or a team member. Sometimes you will need to understand your staff’s emotional status and sometimes the same needs to happen for the boss. They all are humans and can have rough days, which will transpire into either rage or anxiety for them. You need to be there and play an active role in sorting it out.
Common behavioural interview questions
Here are some very common questions you can think about and come up with satisfying answers:
• How did you work effectively under pressure?
• How would you handle a challenge?
• How do you handle disagreement with colleagues?
• How did you handle a mistake?
• How do you set goals?
• Is there a goal you achieved? What was the approach or process?
• Did you ever implement an unpopular decision? How was the experience?
• How would you motivate your colleagues?
It is a bit tricky to do well in behavioral interviews since you can never predict all the questions beforehand and may find yourself in a rather unprecedented situation. However, having the right mindset and taking certain precautions can get you ahead in the game.