What is a Behavioral Interview?
Behavioral interview questions have become more and more popular over the last few years. Many of the employers that recruit at USC use a combination of behavioral and traditional interview questions to select students for internships and full-time jobs. Behavior-based interviewing is a way to screen candidates and get more tangible information from potential hires. The basic premise behind this type of interview is that your past behavior is the best predictor of your future performance and actions in the workplace. Behavioral questions may be asked in any interview format—telephone, Skype/Zoom, panel, or one-on-one. You should be prepared to answer a few behavioral-based questions during your interview.
What are Employers Looking for in a Behavioral Interview?
Employers use behavioral interview questions as a gauge to determine your actions in the workplace. When an employer asks a behavior-oriented question, they are no longer asking hypothetical questions. With behavioral questions, interviewers expect specific and detailed answers based on facts. In other words, the interviewer is looking for results, not just an activity list. They are listening for specifics, such as names, dates, places, the outcome, and most importantly, your role in achieving that outcome. They are looking for examples of what you have learned through your experiences. Examples of behavioral questions include “Tell me about a time you collaborated on a team”, “Can you share an example of a project you recently worked on and what you learned.”
How to Prepare for a Behavioral Interview
Preparing for an interview is similar to studying for a final exam- anticipating questions and strategizing how you want to answer is critical for success. Most behavioral interview questions come directly from the job description. Take note of the skills the employer lists as qualifications or requirements in a job posting. Most likely, the interviewer will ask questions that directly link to those expectations.
In anticipation of a behavioral interview, we suggest you prepare to discuss three to five accomplishments or projects. Reflect on these occasions and know all the details in the event that the interviewer asks follow-up questions for clarification. Often, one scenario can answer various behavioral questions. For example, the project in which you succeeded as part of a team could also be the time when you solved a complex problem. Feel free to use the same example to answer different behavioral questions. However, do not use only one example throughout an entire interview. Utilizing examples from various facets of your life—from academic to professional to student leadership/community service—allows you to appear well-rounded and three-dimensional to the employer during the interview process.
Use the STAR Method in a Behavioral Interview
In answering behavioral questions, consider using the popular “STAR” method. Most people find the “STAR” method helpful because it helps them organize their answers. “STAR” is an acronym that stands for:
- The Situation (be specific)
- Your Task/Role in the project
- The Actions you took
- The Results, i.e. what happened (the positive accomplishment)
There will be instances when interviewers want to know about your failures or projects you were less successful with (i.e. “Tell me about a time when you failed”). Should this occur, make sure to include a response that signifies what you learned from the failure, how your behavior has changed, AND how you have applied what you learned to other experiences. This extra step helps emphasize your maturity, willingness to learn, and change while demonstrating your initiative.
Big Interview, Our Online Mock Interview Platform
To sharpen your interviewing skills, especially if it has been a while since your last interview, you can utilize Big Interview. The platform is a powerful AI-enhanced interviewing tool to help you excel in interviews. It’s an entire interview prep system to provide you with hands-on experience with mock interviews tailored specifically to your industry, job, and experience level! And, it is available to you 24/7 worldwide. It’s not just advice – it’s allowing you to practice online! Make your next interview your best interview