Do you have a behavioral job interview coming up (and WTF is a behavioral job interview)? Are you worried you will get a difficult job interview question? This guide will help you learn how to answer Behavioral Interview questions with the STAR method. It’s basically a one-stop method that will help answer any behavioral job interview questions.
And if you don’t know what this interview type is, I’ll explain. It’s likely you’ll be asked these types of questions.
Even if you don’t know if your upcoming job interview will have behavioral interview questions, it’s important that you understand how to answer these types of questions. You can’t be too careful. In order to ace a job interview, you need to be prepared with several stories about your past experience and great information about your self.
Don’t underestimate how important it is to be prepared. What do I do? I will literally go through the top 100 interview questions before a job interview and practice tailoring my questions to that job. And it works – every time.
My very first ‘adult’ job interview was with Target, a place that I loved to shop. I was interviewing for their Corporate Internship. I was so excited. Little, confident college Becky thought she was a shoe-in. Good grades, loved the store, why wouldn’t they take me?!
But, I didn’t prepare for the job interview. And I didn’t know what a behavioral interview question was. I quickly realized that the interview was going downhill…fast, and it was all because I didn’t know how to answer a behavioral job interview question.
How’d it turn out? You guessed it, I didn’t get the job. I vowed to myself that I would never let that happen again. If I had simply really understood how to prepare for a job interview and how to answer a behavioral interview question, I would have had the job. Simple right?!
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What is a behavioral job interview?
A behavioral job interview is where a company will ask questions regarding your past experiences in order to see if you are a good fit for the current role. Instead of asking you about yourself (like what is your greatest weakness), these questions specifically dive into your past experiences. Especially if you are new to the workforce, this can be challenging.
Why do employers ask behavioral questions?
Employers ask behavioral questions to see if you are good fit for the job. They could also be testing for how thoroughly you answer job interview questions, and how you think about your past experiences. They are looking for the impact you drove and the
What are some examples of behavioral interview questions?
You know if you are encountering a behavioral interview question if it starts with, “Tell me about a time…”. Or, if the question asks about your pasts (i.e. “When is the last time you failed?”). Some of the most popular behavioral interview questions are:
- Tell me about a time you failed
- When is the last time you had a conflict with someone in your office? How did you resolve it?
- Tell me about a time a teammate made a decision you disagreed with. What did you do?
We’re going to dive into how to answer a behavioral interview question in the next section, but I want to reiterate something very important. You cannot simply answer the question you are being asked. If someone says, “tell me about a time…” and you just say what you did to help, you won’t be answering the question to the best of your ability. That’s why you have to answer with the STAR method!
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How do you answer a behavioral interview question?
You should answer a behavioral interview question with the STAR method. The star method stands for: Situation, Action, Task Result. The STAR method allows yout fully provide context on the situation you are in to be able to show how well you handled a certain situation at work. This will also allow an employer to understand if the way you’ve handled past situations will determine future situations.
Situation – State the situation you were in
Task – What tasks did the situation require? What tasks did you have to do to solve the problem mentioned?
Action – Share the action you took in that situation to resolve it
Result – What was the result?
Let’s look at an example with the interview question, “Tell me about a time you failed.” (this is a made up example, btw).
Non STAR Interview Answer:
I failed at work when I messed up on a previous project, I input the wrong numbers in a spreadsheet and the entire system went down for 2 days.
STAR Interview Answer:
S- In my previous job, I was responsible for collaborating with over six different teams to input their quarterly sales quotas into our system. It required an immense amount of attention to detail. I also created the system myself proactively to solve challenges the company was running into every quarter.
T- I failed was one quarter where I input a number into our database incorrectly. It was a small human error. As a result, the teams sales quotas were very different than they actually were, which as you can imagine, affected a lot of people’s actions. Luckily we caught the mistake within days.
A- That being said, to avoid this from happening again, we created a series of checks and balances in this process. In future processes, we were also more careful to look at what could have widespread impact in the company as a result of human error.
R- As a result, very few mistakes happened in the future and our processes were improved.
See the difference?
How to prepare for your next job interview with STAR:
Now as you prepare for your next job interview, make sure you follow this formula and you will ace the interview. I will come up with FIVE stories about my past experience & memorize the STAR method for those stories. Then, I will make a list for each of those stories and list the topics that question could be bucketed in to. Teamwork? Conflict? Cross-functional work? During an interview, that makes it so I can easily plug and play.
What are you going to take to your next job interview? Comment below!