How to Have a Successful Behavioral Interview
By Nikki Rennalls
Why host a behavioral interview workshop for the Women of ECE?
? Because your first job IS important
? Because of the economy
? Because you deserve the job of your dreams
? Because giving a good interview is easy with practice
5 Quick Ways to Improve Your Interview
? Give a Good Handshake
? Make Eye Contact
? Sit up Straight
? Speak up, speak clearly
? Hypothetical Situations
? Interviewers may probe, they may not
? Interviewees may generalize or provide theoretical answers
? Straight questions with straight forward answers
o Ex. “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
? Past Situations
? Interviewers WILL probe
? Interviewers will ask for details
? Questions with story answers
o Ex. “Describe a time you had to work on a team?”
How to Answer Behavior Based Questions Think
? What experience is most relevant to the question?
? Does this story show me in a good light?
? Did my actions directly impact the result?
? Is this story appropriate to share with an interviewer?
? Does this hurt anyone else?
Describe the Situation
? Give a brief back story
o Sometimes Unnecessary
o “Do not begin with „When dinosaurs roamed the Earth‟” -ML
? The Problem/Challenge
Explain Your Actions
? Be clear about what YOU did
? Be honest!
? Go ahead, brag about yourself
? Watch out for embellishments and untruths
? Never lie in an interview
Share The Outcome
? Be Honest
? Measurements of Success
? Rankings, Money, Grades, Stats, etc.
? What did you learn?
? How would you do things differently?
Question 1: Have you had to convince a team to work on a project they weren't thrilled
about? How did you do it?
Question 2: Give me an example of when you took a risk to achieve a goal. What was
Interview Do’s and Don’ts
… talk about yourself … take advantages of silences
… be honest
… express your interest … write a thank-you
… leave without asking questions
…be too casual
…bad-mouth past bosses or colleagues
…bring anything but you‟re A game
? FIRST Robotics Competition
? Career Fair next week
? Harris Dinner Tuesday @ 6pm
? Northrup-Grunman Lunch Thurs. @ 11
? New Service Projects
? Local Women‟s Shelter
? Relay for Life
? Free Donut Fridays
Before You Interview
• Know yourself. An interview is about one thing, YOU. Advanced preparation is
critical … inventory yourself so that you can competently express who you are,
what you want and whether you are a fit for the job.
• Recall recent situations that show favorable behaviors or actions, especially
involving course work, work experience, leadership, teamwork, initiative,
planning, and customer service.
• Prepare short descriptions of each situation; be ready to give details if asked.
• Be sure each story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, i.e., be ready to
describe the situation, your action, and the outcome or result.
• Be sure the outcome or result reflects positively on you (even if the result itself
was not favorable).
• Be honest. Don‟t embellish or omit any part of the story. The interviewer will
find out if your story is built on a weak foundation.
• Be specific. Don‟t generalize about several events; give a detailed accounting of
• Know the interview process. If you don‟t know what to expect, you won‟t know
how to prepare. Read a couple of books and speak with your Career office to
learn everything you can about interviewing ... role-play with another person
acting as the interviewer.
• Make sure the interviewer knows about you. EVERYTHING is a reflection of
you. If your resume or emails are laden with errors, an interviewer may conclude
that you will also approach your job in this manner.
• Know the organization. Research the organization and the position …
it makes you stand out from candidates who haven‟t. Understanding the “culture”
of the organization is also important.
• Give me an example of a change you have made as a result of performance
• When did you have to give a highly visible speech or presentation? How did you
• Describe a recent failure/disappointments in your job (or academics/leadership
positions) and how you handled it.
• What are some of the most significant changes you implemented in your position;
how did your team respond and how did you deal with that? • Can you give me an example where quick action in solving a business or school
problem was critical?
• Have you ever experienced a situation where a business plan or school project
which you put a lot of effort into was rejected or substantially revised? How did
you deal with that situation?
• Describe a situation in which you had to reconcile conflicts in your group/team. • If your peers described your leadership style, what words would they use? Your
• Give me an example of a time that you showed strong initiative. An example
when you‟ve gone above and beyond.
• What would you consider your most significant accomplishments? Why were
these accomplishments important? What difficulties did you have to overcome? • When did you have a lead role in the project, a key role, a support role, etc?
What specific challenges did you face as a leader? How did you have to adapt
your leadership style?
• What are the facets of this position in which you are the most confident? Which
areas of the position are you the least confident? • Name a time you made a critical mistake within a team. How did you resolve it
with your team members and what what the result?
• Describe a decision you made that was unpopular with the group you were
working with and how you handled implementing it.
• Describe a time when your schedule is interrupted, like the change of a deadline?
How you handle it?
• Describe a time you had to convince a team to work on a project they weren't
thrilled about. How did you do it?
• Describe a major change that occurred in a job that you held. How did you adapt
to this change?
• Tell us about a situation in which you had to adjust to changes over which you
had no control. How did you handle it?
• Tell us about a time that you had to adapt to a difficult situation. • What do you do when priorities change quickly? Give one example of when this
• Describe a project or idea that was implemented primarily because of your efforts.
What was your role? What was the outcome?
• Describe a time when you made a suggestion to improve the work in your
organization. Did you follow through? How did this improvement impact the
• Describe a time when you came up with a creative solution/idea/project/report to
a problem in your past work.
• Give an example of an important goal that you set in the past. Tell about your
success in reaching it.
• Tell us about a time when you had to analyze information and make a
recommendation. What kind of thought process did you go through? What was
your reasoning behind your decision?
• Give a specific example of a time when you had to address an angry customer.
What was the problem and what was the outcome? How would you asses your
role in diffusing the situation?
• Have you ever worked in a situation where the rules and guidelines were not clear?
Tell me about it. How did you feel about it? How did you react? • Some people consider themselves to be “big picture people” and others are “detail
oriented”. Which are you? Give an example of a time when you displayed this.
• Describe a situation when you were able to strengthen a relationship by
communicating effectively. What made your communication effective? • Describe a situation where you felt you had not communicated well. How did you
correct the situation?
• Describe a time when you were able to effectively communicate a difficult or
unpleasant idea to a superior.
• Describe a time when you were asked to keep information confidential. • If you can, tell about a time when your trustworthiness was challenged. How did
• On occasion we are confronted by dishonesty in the workplace. Tell about such an
occurrence and how you handled it.
• Describe a time where you had to make an ethical decision. What did you decide
and what was the outcome?
• Describe a time when you encountered unethical behavior in a superior or an
authority figure. Did you confront this person/organization? How did you handle
• Give an example of your ability to build motivation in your co-workers,
classmates, and even if on a volunteer committee.
• Have you ever been a member of a group where two of the members did not work
well together? What did you do to get them to do so?