Dagliano notes that our brains have a remarkable ability to locate things in a pinch as long as we have “told” the brain where we have filed them. Dagliano says that if clients draw a blank on how to answer a question, by merely glancing down at their cheat sheet and seeing the story title, their brains will quickly retrieve the details of the story and the best answer.
So, how many of these stories do you need? Well, certainly at least many as the number of skills you’ve identified. A minimum is around six to eight examples from your past experience that demonstrated top behaviors and skills that employers typically seek (think in terms of examples that will exploit your top selling points). Twenty stories would be even better.
I advise that half your examples should be totally positive, such as accomplishments or meeting goals. The other half should be situations that started out negatively but either ended positively or you made the best of the outcome.
To cram for a behavioral interview right before you’re interviewed, in addition to reviewing your story collection, review your resume. Seeing your achievements in print will jog your memory.
In the interview, listen carefully to each question, and pull an example out of your bag of tricks that provides an appropriate description of how you demonstrated the desired behavior. With practice, you can learn to tailor a relatively small set of examples to respond to a number of different behavioral questions.
Once you’ve snagged the job, keep a record of achievements and accomplishments so you’ll be ready with more great examples the next time you go on a behavior interview.