Hey Job Candidate…Are You a Crystal Ball?

October 22nd, 2012

Is your past performance transparent to your interviewer?  I’ll get back to this question a bit later.

During your interview, you are on the receiving end of a bevy of questions designed to predict the future…based your real past performance.  As a candidate, do you fully understand behavior-based interviewing?

You see, the whole idea behind behavior-based interviewing is to authenticate your ability to do the job.  So many candidates don’t get this! Good interviewers who use this questioning style will ask a series of past performance questions.  Then, they will ask the questions again and again until you offer them detailed examples of how you did it.  The definition of ‘it’ is up to you.  What do you want them to remember about you?  That’s the real secret, standing out among the ocean of other candidates.

So, what are examples of behavior-based interview questions?  Try these on for size:

  • tell me about a time when…,
  • give me an example of what you mean…,
  • give me another example of…
  • tell me more about that…,
  • what were the specific results and how did you achieve them…,
  • could you be more specific…
  • and this is one of my favorites… please give me another example of when…
  • Not to worry, if this happens, someone is very interested in your story.  Just remember, the story you tell needs to have legs. The answers you give should be rooted in your own actual experiences.

So, do you want to nail that interview?  Here are a few musts:

Be prepared… no I mean really prepared. 

Go on the internet and find a list of behavior-based interviewing questions.  Then, print them off and ask someone (with experience) to interview you.  If you cannot find these important questions, call any one of our Symicor Group recruiters for help.  Your interview partner should insist that you provide specific behaviors and results about how you did it and how you could do it again for the company you are dying to join.

Be Truthful. 

Behavior-based interviewing is designed to catch you puffing or exaggerating. Try to avoid this.  Your clarity and facts will leave the right taste in your interviewer’s mouth.  Think about three to five work related stories that showcase your skills.  Remember to include those failures that taught to you the best lessons. As you recall these examples, try to remember all the important details.  The secret sauce is embedded in those details.

Be Convincing. 

With the same detail, convince the interviewer that no one will add more value to the company then you.  Remember, you are on the field of battle with other formidable foes.  Transform the interviewer into a believer…a believer in you!  Your potential employer must believe that you can and will duplicate your past success

So, do your homework. 

Find out what is important to your new company.  Using your new behavior-based interviewing skills, make it your mission to learn about this company’s priorities.  If I had a nickel for every interview I sat through with candidates who only knew what was important to them…not me (or my firm).

This research requires an innovative spirit.  I had a candidate once tell me that she called other employees of my company to discover:  if they liked working for my company and why, what were the top issues or priorities, or what are the top challenges facing my company.  Don’t press them for company secrets, just a few high level themes.  Now indeed, many employees may not be able to clearly outline these priorities or challenges.  You will get the idea as you gently nudge them for their thoughts (employees enjoy offering opinions – don’t you?).

Remember that crystal ball question?  If your interviewer can clearly see that you enjoyed previous success, you can clearly describe how you did it, and he/she clearly believes that you can do it again, you become their clear choice.

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