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How to Prep for a Behavioral Interview

With the right information, it's easy to ace your first behavioral interview. Use these behavioral interview prep tips to ensure you shine.

Each step of the interview process comes with its own unique set of challenges and the behavioral interview is no exception. The behavioral interview differs from a traditional interview in that you can expect questions that revolve more around past behaviors, rather than on specific questions about your experience. Many interviewers believe that your past actions are a good indicator of how you will handle problems in the future. Your behavioral interview prep should involve practicing answers to questions such as these:

• How do you handle conflict? Give us an example.
• How do you motivate others?
• Tell us about a time you handled an unhappy client and turned the situation around.

More and more, interviewers are using behavioral interviews to determine who is the best candidate for the job, making it even more important that you are prepared to handle this portion of the hiring process. These behavioral interview prep tips can ensure that you feel comfortable enough to handle anything thrown your way during an interview. To that end, we've prepared 5 steps for preparing for a behavioral interview.

1. Practice and Prepare

You may not have control over what questions you are asked during your behavioral interview, but you do have control over the stories you choose to share. Take the initiative before your interview to come up with several 60- to 90-second stories of experiences that show how you handle problems in the workplace successfully. Think of times when you have overcome stress when you've had to show strong leadership skills, or when you've dealt with a crisis successfully. Come prepared with four or five different stories that highlight your skills that can be adapted to different types of questions.

2. Research the Company

As with a traditional interview, researching the employer is vital during a behavioral interview. Because the questions are more abstract, you'll want to choose examples that fit in with the company values and goals. For example, if the company does a lot of volunteer work in the community, use examples of times when you've volunteered your time to help others. This shows you are committed to the same things the company values.

3. Practice the S.T.A.R. Method

The S.T.A.R. method is a great way to prepare for behavioral questions in three simple steps. First, explain the Situation or Task you were confronted with. Describe this in reasonable detail, but don't focus on it for too long since this can often be the negative part of the story. Second, talk about the Action you took to resolve the situation. You can take longer to discuss this section, as it truly highlights your critical thinking and creativity. Finally, wrap up the anecdote with the Result, or how things changed after you completed your action. In most situations, you want the result to be good, but even poor results can make good stories if you truly learned from them. Using the S.T.A.R. method allows you to break down your stories into simple, quick examples that highlight your best skills and abilities.

4. Study the Job Description

When you are coming up with your examples, you don't want to just pull random stories out of the air. Rather, you want to tailor your experiences to the ones that will be most beneficial to the specific job you are applying for. In order to do this, read through the job description and highlight the soft skills needed for the position. Customize your answers to show off these skills and show why you are the best candidate for this particular job.

For example, if the job description mentions good communication skills, think of a time when you were faced with a communication problem and how you dealt with it. If the job requires leadership skills, pull from times when you were put in charge of a group of people or project and how you motivated everyone to get it done. The more focused your examples are, the more successful your interview will be.

5. Come Prepared

Even if you know your resume inside and out, it may change based on the job you are applying for. Always bring a copy of the submitted resume to a job interview, along with a few highlighted notes about what you want to share and questions you want to ask. Keep the notes simple, but having prepared questions shows that you are interested in the company and the job.

With these behavioral interview prep tips and some extra time and effort on your part, you are prepared to ace your next behavioral interview and show why you are the candidate they need for the job.

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