Knowing what kinds of questions might be asked will help you prepare an effective selection of examples.
Use examples from internships, classes and school projects, activities, team participation, community service, hobbies and work experience — anything really — as examples of your past behavior. In addition, you may use examples of special accomplishments, whether personal or professional, such as scoring the winning touchdown, being elected president of your Greek organization, winning a prize for your artwork, surfing a big wave, or raising money for charity. Wherever possible, quantify your results. Numbers always impress employers.
Remember that many behavioral questions try to get at how you responded to negative situations; you’ll need to have examples of negative experiences ready, but try to choose negative experiences that you made the best of or — better yet, those that had positive outcomes.
Here’s a good way to prepare for behavior-based interviews:
To cram for a behavioral interview right before you’re interviewed, 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.
Print resources about behavioral Interviewing:
Byham, William C., Ph.D., with Debra Pickett,Landing the Job You Want: How to Have the Best Job Interview of Your Life, 1999: Three Rivers Press.
Green, Paul C., Ph.D.,Get Hired: Winning Strategies to Ace the Interview, 1996: Bard Press.