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How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions

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Most interviews contain one or two behavioral questions. The idea behind these questions is that your past behavior can help predict your future behavior. The interviewer will use your answers to try to get an idea of how you may behave in your new job. When you are answering these kinds of questions, be honest and stay positive.

Think of something good to say about your previous employer and co-workers, even if you didn't always get along with them. You may be asked about your previous relationships with your boss and coworkers. Do not bad-mouth anyone. Describe any difficult situations honestly, remembering to make note of positive ways you dealt with the problems or issues. The interviewer wants to know that you are capable of handling tricky situations, and that you can resolve problems yourself without outside intervention. If you are asked about how you dealt with a difficult boss, say something like "My boss and I did have some problems getting along, so I arranged a private meeting with him. By discussing our differences we were able to resolve our issues and finish the project."

Stay positive when describing your previous position or current situation. You may be asked to describe the reasons you left your previous job. If you have been unemployed for a while, you may be asked why. Do not speak badly about your previous position. The interviewer wants to know what you are looking for that you did not find in your previous job. Say something like "I am looking for more challenging work" or "I'm looking for a position that reflects my achievements." Answer these kinds of questions using the job on offer as your framework. For example, if you are being offered stock options or bonuses say you are looking for an opportunity to grow with the company.

Be prepared to describe your problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills. You may be asked about how you have dealt with difficult situations in the past. These kinds of answers should be limited to your previous job or jobs. The interviewer wants to know how you have dealt with crises and conflicts. If you filled in for someone who was ill so a project could be completed on time, talk about that. If you helped your co-workers resolve a conflict, talk about that. If there was a change in management and you had to adjust your job description or workload, talk about that. The interviewer wants to know you are able to be flexible and resourceful when things aren't easy.

Tip

You can remember how to answer behavioral questions by remembering the word "STAR." Think of the Situation or Task you were involved with, the Actions you initiated to change or improve it and the Results of your actions. These pointers apply to interviews for schools as well as jobs.

Warning

Never be dishonest about your current employment situation, as a potential employer can easily find out the truth.

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