Follow These Steps to Ace Your Behavioral Interview
RippleMatch has compiled all the knowledge you need to crush your next behavioral interview.
What is a behavioral interview?
Behavioral interviews are one of the most common interview types. In a behavioral interview, employers ask questions about past behaviors or work experiences. They are looking for evidence of your capabilities, habits, and how you think about common workplace situations. A successful behavioral interview will draw on real world experiences and showcase your track record of success.
What are employers looking for?
Evidence of positive past behaviors, habits, or traits. The questions in a behavioral interview are designed to have you recount actual events. Certain questions may be structured to assess specific skills like teamwork, problem solving, or perseverance.
Eloquence. Calmly and thoughtfully responding to questions will help you stand out from the crowd.
How do I answer a behavioral interview question?
Breath. You can take a few seconds to think. Don’t be afraid to ask a clarifying question if the meaning isn’t explicitly clear.
Organize your answer. Think through what point you are trying to get across and the specific evidence you will use to support that point. You can use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Results) to structure your answer.
State your answer. Speak slowly and clearly, sticking to the structure you came up with. Don't change it up halfway through.
How should I prepare for a behavioral interview?
The best way to prepare for any interview is to do your research, and practice. Research the employer’s culture and values to see what kinds of traits they might value in potential hires. Review real interview experiences on Glassdoor. Ask a friend or mentor to do a mock interview with you using common behavioral questions. And don’t forget to prepare a 2-3 questions for the employer at the end of your interview!
The “tell me about yourself” question
“So… tell me about yourself.” This question is one of the most common ways behavioral interviews begin. Interviewers may not have time to review your resume or background beforehand, so don’t expect they know anything about you. You should prepare a strong answer before the interview that touches on your education, work experience, and your reason for interviewing. You should not go into too much detail, especially around your work experiences. Limit your answer to 3-4 minutes, maximum. Shorter is better!
I was born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where I lived until I started college at Cornell University. At Cornell, I studied Political Science and Spanish, and will graduate this spring with a 3.5 GPA. Throughout college, I was heavily involved with the Mock Trial team, and served as president during my junior year. My experiences with Mock Trial in high school and college are what peaked my interest in the law, and I interned at law firms in New York City and Washington D.C. during the summers after my sophomore and junior year. I’m taking the LSAT this month, and am looking to gain more hands-on experience at a law firm after graduation. I really admire this firm’s commitment to public interest work, so I’m very excited to to learn a bit more about what it’s like working here."
Do's and Don'ts
Do: Mention where you’re from, or any life circumstances that are compelling; e.g. immigrant background, poor upbringing, or other hardship.
Don’t: Tell your entire life story, including unnecessary personal details
Do: Give a brief, high level overview of your work history.
Don’t: Mention every single position you’ve held since high school and the exact responsibilities for each position.
Do: Come in with a general idea of what you’re going to say, and practice beforehand.
Don’t: Script out every word of your answer ahead of time.
Most common behavioral interview questions
- Tell me about the most significant accomplishment in your life.
- Have you ever experienced a major failure? How did you handle it?
- Give an example of an occasion when you used data to solve a problem.
- Describe a stressful situation at work and how you handled it.
- Did you ever make a risky decision? Why? How did you handle it?
- When you worked on multiple projects how did you prioritize?
- What do you do if you disagree with someone at work?
- Give an example of how you set goals.
- Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers.
- Have you gone above and beyond the call of duty? If so, how?