Behavioral Interviews: What Companies Want to Hear From Managers and Leaders

What do companies want to hear? The stories they want to hear need to have a purpose.

Job interview

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Hi, I'm Jeff Altman, The Big game Hunter. I'm a former recruiter now career coach. I help people perform at a high level within a job search, hiring more effectively, managing and leading workplace related issues and dealing with all sorts of stuff to help you perform at a high level.

When firms are going to ask you behavioral interview questions, for you as a leader, what do they want to hear from you? Now, often, you know, it's not just simply what you say that matters. It's how you tell your story that's going to be important. And they are going to pose these "Tell me about a time when you" or some hypothetical situation that's designed to connect the dots between your background and what they're going to want you to do. And thus, these behavioral questions are really pivotal for them understanding how you can support them.

So in advance of your interview, I want you to be prepared with at least three stories that follow the framework of either situation, objective, action, result, or PAR-- problem, action, result--that kind of address what you believe the position is based upon the job description.

Now, for those of you who know me, you know, I believe that there's a question you ask at the beginning of the interview, to test that, to ensure that you have the current job description understood, because sometimes jobs, often job descriptions, and what a firm is really looking for, they're not quite the same. So you want to hear about the job at the beginning of the interview so that you can adapt your stories to what's going to matter for them.

And when answering a behavioral question, I want you to start by answering it in a minute to a minute 15 so that this way, you're giving them a high level overview of what you've done, about the situation, the objective, the action that you took and the result that has a metric to it. Then from there, finish it by saying, "and if you like, I can go into more detail," which for those of you who are in leadership, they're going to want to do that, because they're gonna want to understand how you did things step by step, how you figure it out, and analyze and compared alternatives to come up with a solution.

Now, from their standpoint, they want to hear about not just simply the conventional answer, but they really want to hear about the creative one, too. And you can speak to, you know, "I was looking at this solution, but you know, this solution was okay. And it would have been adequate bit I wanted the customer, either internally or externally, makes no difference . . . I wanted them to really feel attended to. And from a cost perspective, it wasn't radically different. So I gave them the choice, and they opted for this one. Fabulous.

And then from there, problems showed up and they want to hear that you have a determination to resolve them. And thus, they're trying to test your problem solving skills from past situations, and how you've dealt with issues with your team, in terms of delivering things. When all is said and done, it's not just what you say that's going to matter. It's how you tell the story. Whether you have excitement as you talk or whether you sound like just another dreary person who says the same thing as the last dreary person. And if you've got that smile on your face, and you're the twinkle in your eyes, whether you're on camera or in person, it does make a difference.

I hope you found this helpful. I'm Jeff Altman. My website is There's a lot more there that you can watch, listen to read, that's going to help you find work more quickly. And in addition, if you're interested in one on one coaching as preparation for this interview, you can schedule time for a free discovery call, or what's probably more relevant, to schedule time for coaching. I would love to help.

Lastly, follow me on LinkedIn-- /in/TheBigGameHunter. Hope you have a terrific day. Be great. Take care.


JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter
JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2100 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Schedule a free Discovery call.

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