How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions |

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Ep 632 Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter offers a format for answering those trick behavioral questions. 

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Today, I want to talk with you about the best, most effective way to answer those tricky behavioral interview questions that are asked on job interviews. You can recognize them because what the employer is asking is about how you handled situations in the past. Not what you know, but what you did. The type of situations that you were in and how you handled them.

They are tricky because, so often, because people become modest and understated, or are completely unprepared to answer them. The questions, invariably start off with a scenario.

"Tell me about a time when you…"

"Describe a situation where you…"

Things along those lines. Suddenly, people get this false modesty. They talk about what their group did. They talk about what the manager did. They talk about everyone except using "I" statements. You know, I did this. I did that. I statements.

You don't want to sound boastful but you want to paint a tapestry for them. You want to get the paint on the canvas in a way that describes the situation that you faced. The methodology is called the STAR method.

You describe the situation (that is, the S in star) that you faced and do it with some depth that really paints the picture of the situation that you faced. Then, you start looking at the Task that was ahead of you. Perhaps it was assigned to you; perhaps you looked at the situation and figured out what needed to be done (that is, the "T" in star). The Action that you took. What was the action that you did? Were there any bumps in the road that you had to overcome? It could be difficulties with the user. It could have been colleagues who you had to persuade to get on board with the program. Whatever it was, you talk about the actions that you talk and what the Result was. To me, results are invariably are about outcomes. When I think about outcomes, I think about money saved or money you helped an organization earn. Where that isn't possible, you talk about delivering that fantastic result beyond everyone's expectations that cause you to receive incredible praise.

If you don't really have a situation like that, don't concoct it, but you need to be prepared to talk about situations where you handle the crisis. Perhaps, you need to problem solve in a unique way. Perhaps what you did have a significant financial contribution. Think big picture here.

As you talk about what, again, you can start off, as I always say, with a little bit of theater.

"Wow! That's a great question. There was this time about a year ago when I…" Then you describe the situation that you faced. "My boss asked me to do…" Again, paint the picture of your manager coming to you in describing in detail (or not) what needed to be done. The action that you ultimately took and what the result was of that action, preferably in terms of money saved or money earned for your organization.

Then, if you want to put a cherry on it, talk about what you learned from the situation from the problems that you faced and how you overcame them.


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 and life coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1000 episodes,“ Job Search Radio,” “and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

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