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Jodi Hill
Jodi Hill Influencer
2y Pittsburgh, PA, United States Story
Interview Techniques: Behavioral Interviews

The new trend in interview techniques:

Anyone who has ever interviewed for a new job has no doubt, been asked the standard interview questions; possibly the most common being "tell me a little about yourself" but in the last couple of years, a new trend in interview techniques has gained popularity among hiring managers.  

Interviewees are being asked what are known as behavioral interview questions, situational interview questions, and stress interview questions.  All are used to determine an applicant's ability to handle work-life experiences.  What are the differences between behavioral, situational, or stress related interview questions?

Behavioral interview questions are primarily used to determine how an applicant has handled past experiences.  The reason; because the best indicator of future behavior is relevant past behavior.  If an employer wants to know what your behavioral patterns are going to be moving forward in the desired position, the hiring manager will ask you questions relating to how you have behaved in past jobs.  Some of these questions include; asking you about a particular type of situation or emergency, asking you to describe a specific instance, or asking you to describe a specific type of problem and how you handled them. The hiring manager is not looking for how you should or will handle that particular instance, he/she is looking to see how you actually did handle that problem.

When faced with these types of interview questions, according to Steinbright Career Development Center, the ideal answer would be what is known as the "STAR Method", meaning that the response should "describe the Situation, the Tasks with which you were charged, the Action you took, and the Result of your action."  

When preparing for a behavioral interview you need to determine what the employer is seeking in a candidate regarding skills, strengths, and experience.  Once you have determined the employers desired criteria, you can then look back on your career experiences and match them to those of the current job you are applying for.  That way, when the hiring manager asks you to describe a time when…you'll be fully prepared for actual, factual scenarios describing the situation, the task you were given, the action you took, and the result of your action.  Make sure you pick a strong story that makes a statement as to your manner of dealing with tough decisions, tasks, or duties.  Finish strong by matching the story with the position you are interviewing for.  Practice your answers beforehand by anticipating that you WILL be asked behavioral interview questions, and you'll sound polished, calm, relaxed and ready to take on any type of challenging task they can throw at you once you land the job.

Separately, stress interview questions are obviously designed to determine how a candidate has handled stressful work situations in the past, enabling the employer to gauge future stress management.  If the position comes with a high degree of stress it would be evident by the questions you as a candidate are asked during the interview. This is a great indicator for the job seeker as to how much stress is related to the position, not only giving the hiring manager and insight into the candidate, but also giving the candidate a glimpse as to the position, how stressful it might be, and if that candidate wants to accept the position should it be offered to them.

A good indicator of a stress interview is being asked "strange questions."  These are questions that seem to have no bearing on the job, the company or to you, the candidate.  An example might be "How many tennis balls can you fit into a stretch limousine?"  The purpose of this question is to determine your problem-solving skills and manner of deduction.  Break this type of question down into manageable sections. Verbally describe your decision making and reasoning processes. The hiring manager is not looking for a correct answer, he/she is paying attention to how you problem solve, how you dissect a problem into sections and then deal with each one separately in order to come to a resolution.  Another indicator of a stress interview is being asked to take a lengthy test in an unreasonably short period of time such as a two-hour exam in 30 minutes.   The employer is looking at how calm, cool and collected you remain during that stressful period.  

If you are called in for an interview, research the position, carefully read the job posting and list the requirements the employer is looking for in a candidate.  Then, go back through your experiences in past positions and where there have been significant stressful situations, then match how you broke down those situations and solved the problem(s) to the particular job posting.  Always prepare yourself for the possibility of a behavioral interview or a stress interview.  All jobs will eventually have days full of stress that challenge how we problem solve and behave during those stressful times.  If you are currently working and looking for another position, pay close attention to how you manage your daily tasks.  Do you stress out easily?  Do you get flustered quickly?  Do you easily lose your train-of-thought?  Do you lose your patience with people easily?  Do you get angry or lose your temper?  If you know you cannot complete the desired task on time, how to you approach your boss?  Take note of these situations and prepare for the upcoming interview using your personal experiences.  This will greatly improve your interviewing skills and give you a much better chance at being offered the job.

Happy career hunting!

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Jodi Hill

I am a writer and also a contributor for Influencing Entrepreneur Magazine. I am, and have been, a small business owner since 2008 striving to help those job seekers who need to amp up their pre-employment documents such as Cover Letters and Resumes, provide interview tips and tricks, interview [...]

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