Preparing for interviews is overwhelming because theoretically, an interviewer can ask anything they want, right? Thankfully, reality is not as wild as that. It’s quite easy and formulaic actually. Most interviewers follow competency-based or behavioral interviews where they’re evaluating your historical behavior or a specific competency relevant to the role. Here are 3 Easy Steps to Answer Behavioral or Competency-based Questions to successfully prepare and tackle these seemingly easy questions.
#1. First, understand what the interviewer is seeking through his/her phrasing of the question. What competency or behavior are they trying to gauge? By knowing what quality they are trying to get to the bottom of, you can tell the appropriate story! For instance, a question like “How did you handle an instance where you faced a conflict while working on a team?” would be addressing the competency or behavior when it comes to teamwork or conflict resolution. Here’s a great Muse Article with some common competencies/behaviors and potential questions to help you prepare.
#2. Knowing what quality/behavior is being tested, your answer should be delivered in a specific, interesting, and succinct* way following the structure taught in the Nail Your Narrative step of the DANDAN Method.
Situation: Set the stage. Who was involved? What was the scenario?
Ideas: What did you think? Brainstorm solutions you had in mind for the problem.
Specific Action: What did you do to address the issue? Why was that the right decision? How did you pick that out of many other options (this tests your judgment and prioritization capabilities too)?
Results: What did you (and anyone else in your story) achieve? What was the outcome?
Lesson Learned: What would you do in the future in similar scenarios? How can you improve or learn from the experience?
*TIP: Tell the whole story in a seamless, clear, and simple way. No answer should be longer than 3-5 minutes otherwise you risk losing the interviewer’s interest and attention. A 10-minute monologue is not fun for your listener. In fact, you will unintentionally raise a red flag – in today’s world of speed and efficiency, you must be able to communicate complicated scenarios in a digestible manner. If you can’t answer succinctly, then your job capabilities will certainly be called into question. Make eye contact and be attuned to your audience’s feedback/body language to your story. If you see them lose interest, then get to the ending, QUICKLY!
Lastly, #3. Create stories* ahead of time on the most popularly evaluated competencies/behaviors most employers care about. If you prepare ahead of time, you have clear stories laid out in your mind, so you don’t have to scramble for a good example. Even if you don’t have the perfectly matching answer to their question, as long as you have enough stories in your head, you can substitute a relevant answer. Because there are no right or wrong answers in any interview, you can feel confident as long as you have 5 – 7 great examples to mix and match depending on what your interviewer asks, you’ll be able to nail it!
A few common subjects to create your stories around: Timeline management, teamwork, conflict resolution, multi-tasking, prioritization, technical challenges specific to your role/industry, problem solving, customer service, initiative, perseverance, etc.
TIP*: Why do I keep calling these answers stories? It’s important to add some drama, some pizzaz, some emotion to your answers! There is no “wow” factor if you’re simply rambling and droning out your story. These questions are as boring as it gets, so at least make the answer fun and entertaining! This is your moment to shine and let that personality come through. Remember, your chance to get the job heightens the more you’re liked!
I hope this helps take some pressure off of interview prep! View these questions as a fun event where you can practice and improve your communication skills. There are always future companies to evaluate and don’t worry about your performance after. The right company/manager will find you and vice versa. Stay authentic to your true self!
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