What’s "good behavior" in a behavioral job interview? | Ladders

Learn how to prepare your responses to behavioral questions during an interview.

What’s “good behavior” in a behavioral job interview?

Learn how to prepare your responses to behavioral questions during an interview.

Most people know how important it is to be on their best behavior during job interviews. but a behavioral interview isn’t just about a polished appearance and firm handshake. Often conducted as a follow-up to a traditional interview, a behavioral interview allows recruiters to assess your past performances and general demeanor as an indicator of your potential for success.

In most behavioral interviews, you’ll be expected to answer questions about specific events, projects and experiences throughout your career. By digging deeper into how you’ve handled challenging situations, interviewers can better determine whether or not you have similar values and approach problems in a similar way.

Having your past performances put under a microscope can be one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the job search process, but it’s more important than ever to display a calm and confident attitude at this point in time. After all, your behavior represents your ability to perform under pressure. Here are some tips for successfully sailing through a behavioral interview.

Do your background research

Review the company’s website and blog and do some digging to get a feel for the company’s culture. One of the major goals of a behavioral interview is to determine if you’ll fit in with the company, so it’s helpful to be prepared with examples that demonstrate that you’re ready to become part of its team.

Honesty is the best policy

You may think you’re helping your cause by telling the interviewer what they seem to want to hear. But if you’re stretching the truth, you’re rarely doing yourself any favors. Interviewers will either sense your dishonesty, or you’ll find yourself haunted by your lie down the road when you’re asked to back it up. Rather than fabricate your way into the wrong position, answer each question candidly while still maintaining an air of professionalism.

Be specific

The interviewer is likely to ask you to describe an occasion when you faced a challenge, overcame an obstacle or accomplished a major goal. A one-sentence answer isn’t going to cut it here. Instead, be prepared with a range of detailed anecdotes that you feel represent your biggest professional highlights thus far. It might even help to jog your memory by writing down specific details of those experiences before heading in to the interview. Don’t use them to read verbatim during the interview, but by doing this exercise, you could end up remembering some key details you had forgotten. Remember to wrap up each story by sharing what you learned from the experience.

Don’t limit yourself to work experiences

Even if you’re just starting out in the professional world, you can use other experiences from your life — whether from school, part-time jobs, or even everyday living — to illustrate your strengths. Consider lessons you’ve learned in classes or obstacles you’ve overcome in your home life that have made you a stronger person.

Be prepared for curveballs

You could spend hours crafting answers to the most commonly asked behavioral interview questions, but there’s a good chance that your interviewer will throw you at least one curveball question. For me, it was when an interviewer asked me about the craziest thing I’d ever done. Dumbfounded, I sputtered out a horrible answer and struggled to recover. Learn a lesson from my mistake — just relax and open yourself up to off-the-wall questions.

Michelle Kruse

Michelle Kruse Michelle Kruse has more than 10 years of hiring and recruiting experience and a background in coaching and leadership development. At ResumeEdge, Michelle recruits and hires résumé writers, provides training and ongoing support, manages strategic partnerships and serves as a subject matter expert on the job search process.

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