Responding to Behavioral Questions on an Application Form


behavioral-based-interviewDardo writes:
I am trying to fill in an employment form. At the last part they ask 5 questions on “General Information.” There are two of them for which I can’t find any good/”cool”/adequate answer. They are:

  1. Which has been the most difficult problem you have faced (in your job school etc) and how did you solve it?
  2. Give an example of a situation where you solved a problem in an original or unusual way.

I just cannot remember any difficult valuable problem to present. I am somehow blocked.

Could you give me some tips or hints to give efficient answers (what can a company expect?) and where or how to look in my life history? Do you have any credible “story” I can include?


The Career Doctor responds:
You have stumbled upon a growing trend in employment applications and interviews: Behavioral-based questions. Behavioral questions are based on the theory that your past performance is the best predictor of future behavior; thus there are no “cool” answers per se. You need to dig into your past and find answers to these questions.

Recent college grads with little work experience should focus on class projects and group situations that might lend themselves to these types of questions. Hobbies and volunteer work also might provide examples you could use.

Finally you should frame their answers based on a four-part outline: (1) describe the situation (2) discuss the actions you took (3) relate the outcomes and (4) specify what you learned from it.

You can read more about behavioral interview questions at Behavioral Interviewing Strategies for Job-Seekers and in our free e-book on the subject Behavioral Interviewing.