The Behavioral Interview: What College Grads Need to Know

June 5, 2012 Category: Professional Development

For a majority of college students, learning how to nail interviews is a huge priority. After graduation, the routine of applying to jobs and attending interviews will become the norm so there’s no time like the present for students to understand how to conduct themselves in such scenarios for successful results.

However, not all interviews are the same and there are certain types of questions asked during these meetings that could catch a person off guard. College graduates and soon-to-be-grads will want to add a new skill set to their interview learning curve: the behavioral interview.

What is a Behavioral Interview?

Behavioral InterviewThis type of interview describes a situation where the interviewer chooses a line of questioning that requires the interviewee to explain what actions they would take or how they would react to a particular scenario.

Behavioral questions are designed to gauge how the interviewee would be as a potential employee of a company. Such questions call for the interviewee to draw on their previous work or life experiences, which also gives the interviewer some insight as to an individual’s personality and thought process.

What Are Examples of Behavioral Questions?

When a person goes into an interview, they aren’t going to be told, “Okay, now we’re going to ask you some behavioral questions.” However, a surefire sign that such a question is about to be asked is if the interview starts with something along the lines of, “Tell me about a time when…”

While there is no official guidebook that contains all the behavioral questions interviewers ask, examples could include:

– Tell me about a time when you showcased good judgment in a tough situation.

– Tell me about a time when you felt you weren’t being included as part of the team and what you did about it.

– Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond your job description.

How to Answer Such Questions?

If you’re fresh out of college, you might be wondering how to successfully answer behavioral questions without an extensive work history. Should be you faced with a “Tell me about a time when…” type of question, call upon your past experiences that are relevant. This could include an internship program you participated in, a part-time job you held while in school, etc.

Can’t think of anything applicable? Say so but phrase it properly. Mention that since you’re a recent graduate, you’ve yet to find yourself in that type of situation. But don’t just end it there. Finish your answer by discussing “hypothetically” how you would approach whatever the scenario is.

Individuals that have relevant work experiences to draw upon will want to make sure that their answers include specific examples to back up their explanation. Oftentimes interviewers will put pressure for such details if they aren’t mentioned initially in an answer, which can be unnerving for some people.

When you have those answers ready with relevant details/examples, it will move the interview along faster and lead to different questions, instead of having the interviewer focus too much on any one question/subject.

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