The following tips and strategies are guaranteed to boost your behavioural interview performance:
1. Ooze STAR Quality – Whilst gearing up for the behavioural interview, bear in mind that interviewers want to hear thorough descriptions of past performances. To satisfactorily answer a behavioural interview question, you must include the following three components (characterised by the acronym STAR): the Situation or Task you were involved in, the Action(s) you took in order to make changes and the Result(s) that were achieved by those actions. For instance, if asked to narrate how you turned an angry customer into a happy one, it is not sufficient to say that you apologised to the customer. You must narrate what led to the customer’s dissatisfaction, describe how you stepped into the situation and how, as a result of your timely intervention, the customer who was previously threatening to take his business elsewhere happily purchased new products and services. In a nutshell, the best interviewees are talented ‘true story’ tellers.
2. Flaunt Your Talents – Resist the temptation to base all your narratives on job related proficiencies. If you are a talented musician, do say so at the interview. If you are a former Olympic contestant who climbed Mount Everest barefoot, let your interviewers in on the secret too. If you’ve written a book, bring an autographed sample copy or two along. Employers want to interview (and hire) talented people. Be interesting if you want to stand out amidst the dozens of interviewees who claim they can do the job. Frankly speaking, it is not enough to get the job done; one must also bring valuable talents to an organisation. If you want to make a good impression, show off your talents where appropriate. Varying your narratives will also enhance your credibility because capable people tend to put their talents to work in their everyday lives. For example, if you are an effective time manager during working hours then you should be demonstrating those time management skills at home also.
3. Perfect Your Practice – Rehearse answers to likely behavioural interview questions with the help of family and friends, co-workers and career counsellors, mentors and managers. Everyone has unique perspectives and nuggets of wisdom to offer. If possible, get your line manager to go through likely interview questions with you as he or she is likely to know what interviewers look out for in a candidate. Maintain a great relationship with your boss and you’ll be let in on the trade secrets.
4. Remain Confident – Even the most talented actors and actresses get nervous before a big performance so it’s natural to feel a little apprehensive before your behavioural interview. A good way to keep calm whilst waiting for the interview to begin is by focussing on the talents and activities you enjoy tremendously e.g. singing, painting, or playing golf. When you walk into the interview room, be sure to smile, make eye contact and shake hands firmly. It also helps to create rapport by making small talk. For instance, ask your interviewers what talents and activities they enjoy in their spare time and draw emphasis on common interests during conversation. Remember that people respond more favourably to those who are like them and behavioural interviewers are no exception.
5. Listen Carefully – Make sure you listen to each question intently and stop to think before you answer. For instance, many behavioural interview questions are multi faceted i.e. several questions merged into one. For example: What do you do when priorities change quickly? Give one example of when this happened AND There are times when we work without close supervision to get the job done. Tell us about a time when you found yourself in such a situation and how things turned out. If you fail to listen attentively, you may forget to answer certain parts of such questions! A good way to keep track is by discretely holding out multiple fingers before attempting multi faceted questions, dropping a finger after each sub-question has been answered.
6. Speak Naturally – Speak clearly and confidently, in keeping with your natural style. For instance, if you are a slow talker don’t try to talk fast just because you want to sound really keen on the job and if you are the serious sort don’t try to be funny either. Maintain eye contact with your interviewers throughout the behavioural interview as this will make you come across as honest, confident and intelligent. Just be your best self and you’ll make a positive impact at the interview.
Behavioural interviews are not difficult for those who have taken the time to find hidden talents and discover their purpose in life. By passionately communicating how your talents, skills, values and behaviours benefit your prospective employer, you can put yourself miles ahead of your competitors and make the career changes you desire.