Behavioral Interviewing

Top companies like Accenture and AT&T have been using behavior-based interview questions for several years as an effective method for screening job candidates. Employers that ask these types of questions are often able to more accurately predict the future performance of an employee. According to research, behavioral interviewing is 55 percent predictive of an employee’s future job behavior. Traditional interview questions, on the other hand, are only 10 percent predictive.

Since behavioral questions have such positive results, many companies rely on them to make decisions. Instead of focusing on traditional get-to-know-you type questions, behavioral interviewing questions tend to be more probing. For this reason, the responses are usually better.

Characteristics That Are Uncovered During Behavioral Interviewing

When an employer like Accenture asks behavior related questions, they are often seeking to uncover traits about the prospective individual. These questions can help the company identify job experience, skills, knowledge, and other abilities that may be desirable. Some characteristics that Accenture looks for during behavior-based questions include:

  • Willingness to learn
  • Being a self-starter
  • Professionalism
  • Critical thinking
  • Willingness to Travel
  • Self-confidence
  • Team Work

Behavioral interviewing questions tend to be to the point. This usually provides a more detailed response from the interviewee, allowing the company to make an informed hiring decision. If you know what skills the company is looking for, it is important to try to highlight them when you answer these questions. Sometimes, researching the company or job description can help you recognize what skills or characteristics you should speak about when you respond.

Crafting a Good Response to Behavior Based Questions

Typically, the best responses during behavioral interviewing are very detailed. They include more information than is accessible on the resume or cover letter. In doing so, the employer is able to get to know you better.

As a general rule, it is a good idea to answer with an example. When you relate the details of a specific situation, your chances of succeeding during the interview are much stronger. General responses do not convey as much information, and they do not help the employer understand why you are right for the job.

In most cases, you can create an answer that involves three parts. These include the following:

1. Situation (or problem, task)

2. Action

3. Result (or outcome)

This statement is sometimes referred to as a S-A-R, S-T-A-R, or P-A-R. If you follow it, you are less likely to ramble when you provide responses to these questions. It will help you become a better storyteller and attract the attention of the interviewers. Here is an example of an effective SAR statement:

1. Situation: Our magazine’s advertising revenue was dropping, and many of our large advertisers were choosing not to renew their contracts.

2. Action: I created a promotional packet that outlined the circulation of the magazine and the benefits of being an advertiser. In addition, I set up a special training with our Account Executives to cover effective selling strategies.

3. Result: We were able to reinstate the contracts of 12 of our top advertisers, and we also acquired multiple new advertisers. This boosted our ad revenue 15 percent compared to the previous year.

Preparing for Behavioral Interviewing

It is difficult for most people to prepare for behavioral interviewing because there are so many possible questions that can be asked. However, there are a few things that you do beforehand so you respond to behavior related questions.

To begin with, come up with six to eight experiences you have had in the past where you demonstrated characteristics that the employer looks for. Keep in mind these experiences may vary from employer to employer since each company looks for different skills. You can review the job description and the company website to get a better idea of what to cover.

When you come up with examples, make sure that half are completely positive. These situations can be about past accomplishments or how you met your goals. The other half of your examples should describe a situation that began negatively. You can talk about how you made the experience positive or found the best outcome.

Make sure to come up with examples from different aspects of your life. However, try to make sure they are more recent examples. A company like Accenture prefers examples from the last year.

If you need help coming up with examples to share, spend some time reviewing your resume. With a little effort, you should be able to prepare for these challenging interview questions.

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