You’ve researched the employer on Purdue Career Wiki, practiced the common interview questions, dressed appropriately for the interview (Women/Men), and given an overall great first impression to your interviewer. Congratulations! However, your work is still not finished. Getting past that first impression is only half of the journey. Now that you have made it past the first impression, you must show your expertise and qualifications for the job through not on;y common interview questions, but also behavioral interview questions.
Behavioral interview questions will not only ask you what you would do in a situation, but what you have done in previous ones. An example of a behavioral interview question would be, “Tell me about a time you had to adhere to a policy you didn’t like.” To answer these kinds of questions, we recommend you follow the STAR method.
- Describe the setting in which your interview response takes place.
- What were you doing? Who were you working with? What project were you working on?
- Explain how the situation changed, and how you were expected to address this change.
- What was the goal you were striving to accomplish or the problem you were trying to solve?
- Clarify the specific action steps that you took in order to address the task at hand.
- Demonstrate and mention skills that you utilized in each step.
- What did you do to resolve the problem or reach the goal?
- Explain how your actions contribute to the overall end product of the situation.
- How did the situation end? What did you learn from this experience?
So for the question, “tell me about a time you had to adhere to a policy you didn’t like,” a hypothetical example answer to this question could be:
A time I had to adhere to a policy I didn’t like was when I was working on a group project for Com 114 (Situation). My group and I were in charge of a group presentation about nonverbal communication and a criterion for the presentation was that we all had to speak for 5-8 minutes each; however, being about nonverbal communication, I felt the presentation should consist of more nonverbal cues than actual verbal presenting (Task). To address the problem, I spoke with my group and professor about my views on a creative way to present this concept (Action). My group agreed with me, and the professor allowed us to have our nonverbal communication counted in our time requirements as long as we had at least 4 minutes each of verbal communication describing the concept (Result).
That hypothetical answer contains all four parts of the STAR method and answers the question completely. Behavioral interview questions are very popular among employers because it shows them that you already have experience handling difficult situations. Practice the STAR method and you can master these behavioral interview questions!
Want more practice? Here’s a list of some more sample behavioral questions.