Here are a few examples of skill sets and some behavioral-based interview questions associated with these skills.
Decision Making and Problem Solving
Describe a situation in which you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision.
Have you ever had trouble getting others to agree with your ideas? How did you deal with the situation, and were you successful?
Describe the most challenging group from which you’ve had to gain cooperation.
Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty.
Give me an example of a situation in which you positively influenced the actions of others.
Describe a situation in which you were able to successfully communicate with another individual who did not personally like you (or vice versa).
Give me an example of a time you had to use written communication to convey an important argument or idea.
Give me examples of what you’ve done in the past to contribute to a teamwork environment.
Give an example of an unpopular decision you’ve made, what the result was, and how you managed it.
Planning and Organization
When scheduling your time, what method do you use to decide which items are priorities?
Describe how you’ve handled a sudden interruption to your schedule.
Once you’ve determined which behavioral-based questions you might be asked during an interview, look back on your past experiences and develop stories to answer those questions. Your stories should be detailed, yet succinct, and should always include the following three elements:
A description of a specific, real-life situation or challenge you encountered.
A description of the tasks and actions you took to overcome that challenge.
A summary of the results of those actions. (Try to quantify these results whenever possible.)
Here is a sample answer to a behavioral interview question that incorporates each of these elements.
Question: Give an example of a goal you reached, and tell me how you achieved it.
Answer: Due to cuts in funding to our adult continuing education program, we faced the daunting goal of drastically reducing our promotional budget without sacrificing our media presence in the community. As Program Director, I researched alternatives to the effective, yet costly, course brochure, which was produced and distributed biannually to an average of 60,000 residents in our service region. I was able to successfully negotiate with two local newspapers to produce and distribute a new course brochure that increased distribution by 33% to 80,000 residents and decreased costs by 50%.
Familiarizing yourself with the behavioral interview style, crafting and practicing your stories, and doing some homework on the position you seek will ensure that you won’t be caught off guard should you encounter a behavioral interview.
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