Behavioral Based Interviewing With A Buzz.

As an outplacement guy I’ve been briefing and debriefing candidates on the interview process for years and some things haven’t changed much.  Most executives do not do well at interviewing, but rather very well at selling their company or themselves to a candidate. Another thing that has not changed is HR doing everything possible to control the hiring process, including interviewing.  Interestingly, those two pieces of rigid behavior have come together nicely to provide structure to the interview through team/panel, behavioral based interviewing.

Most companies have been equipping hiring managers or those participating in the interview process with a series of behavioral based questions which the panel or team (usually no more than four) then divides amongst themselves, and asks. I’ve pulled together a list of common behavioral-interview questions that I find being asked of my candidates on a fairly regular basis.

One of the keys to success in interviewing is practice, so we encourage you to take the time to work out answers to these questions.  Don’t memorize answers.  Successful interviewing is the result of being prepared for the questions by having a mental outline to follow, and incorporating your value as demonstrated in your resume as you respond to each question.

Here is one list of sample behavioral-based interview questions:

  • Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
  • Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  • Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone’s opinion.
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
  • Please discuss an important written document you were required to complete.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  • Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision.
  • What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
  • Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).
  • Tell me about a difficult decision you’ve made in the last year.
  • Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish and failed.
  • Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.
  • Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
  • Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.
  • Tell me about a time when you delegated a project effectively.
  • Give me an example of a time when you used your fact-finding skills to solve a problem.
  • Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem.
  • Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
  • Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision.
  • Please tell me about a time you had to fire a friend.
  • Describe a time when you set your sights too high (or too low).

Obviously this list is not meant to be all inclusive, but rather a tool that should afford you the opportunity to begin thinking about verbally transferring your value as defined upon your resume to the ears and brains of those whom you’ll be attempting to impress. As you do your pre-interview company research, and telephone interviewing identify the organizations core values and beliefs as this will give some insight as to how some of the above questions may be framed.  It’s important to remember that not only will they be listening to your value proposition, but also to determine how your behaviors will mesh with their culture.

Buzz Smith is SR Curmudgeon and VP Consulting Services for OPI National Outplacement and can be reached at 865.531.9154.  OPI National Outplacement and Career Transition Services Located in Knoxville, Tennessee.


About Buzz Smith

Welcome. My name is Charles “Buzz” Smith and I’m the SR Curmudgeon of Consulting Services at OPI National Outplacement. My role, in addition to agitating our sales personnel, and consultants is to take the lead on delivering outplacement and career transition services that are effective. I blog about career stuff when my wife of 40 years, Linda banishes to the garden.

Posted on June 7, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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