The NESACS Blog
From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
Categories:

Archives:
Meta:
July 2019
S M T W T F S
« Jun    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  
07/07/06
Behavioral Interview Questions
Filed under: Interviewing
Posted by: site admin @ 11:19 am

Hi Dan

Wish you a very happy july 4th. I hope you had a great weekend.
As I am preparing for the site-visit and interview for Dow, I have a few questions.
It’s about behavioral questions and how to tackle them. Somehow I never felt comfortable answering them.
When the question is like “describe a situation where ….”, am I expected to describe a situation in professional (in my case academic) life? What if I never had such a situation? Is it OK to describe a situation in personal or extracurricular life? Also, how old that example should be?
Also, when I had this behavioral interview for GE, the interviewer later told me that they were not satisfied with some of the answers and that to some of the questions, I decribed more than one situation that falls into same category. I don’t know if it is right to give one example or more than one?
 
Thanks,
P
 

5 Responses to “Behavioral Interview Questions”

  1. site admin Says:
    Dear P,
    Thank you for your note and greetings.
    Please understand that the logic for behavioral based questions is to learn from applicants some approaches to dealing with situations. These behaviors give employers some sense of how an applicant might perform in future situations. The generalization is that behaviors tend to predict. Companies are not out to make things “hard” for interviewees…
    Each person who is hired to work for a firm is at least a $250,000 investment. Thus, companies cannot afford to make mistakes.
    Companies ask questions to assess behaviors. To develop the questions, companies do a detailed analysis to determine what is important in jobs and what skills new employees need to succeed in those jobs. They then determine the questions, interviewees’ responses and what are desired responses. Ultimately, the interview process seeks to make the final hiring decision based on facts from the interview.
    You are asked to respond to questions with specific facts and events, not hypothetical responses. There are three general types of behavior-based questions, based on specific know-how (content), on people, things, and information (organizing, managing, and developing), and on adapting to demands. You are doing two of the three things that prepare you for behavioral interviews. You are learning about the company and learning about the position. It will also help you if you do a careful self-assessment.

    Think about your history and background. Write out a list file of personal event stories that describe your accomplishments, problems/ solutions, developments, challenges, how you have gone about doing various things. It will be easier once you get a picture of what will be sought. Eventually, you will develop personal stories that last about 2 minutes that might follow STAR acronym. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Results.
    Situation/Task: Describe the situation or task in sufficient detail so the interviewer fully understands your role.
    Actions: Describe what you did.
    Results: Describe what happened.

    Some typical questions are:
    Tell me about a time when you were criticized? What did you do?
    Describe a time when you were under enormous presure. What did you do?
    Give me an example of when you had to deal with unexpected events or frequent changes.
    Tell me about a time when you had to deal wth an unstructured work environment.

    To help you think about the position for which you are being interviewed. Determine the skills that you will be expected to have. Match your background to the skills required and your background Identify your two or three top skills or selling points and figure ways of bringing them into your responses. You should be prepared to confidently respond to each of the questions. Be prepared, but not “rehearsed”.

    Be yourself, show enthusiasm and passion. P, I believe if you can organize your thinking you will do well. It is not overwelming and in fact can be an enjoyable challenge. You will be learning new skills and putting them to use right away.
    Regards,
    Dan
  2. site admin Says:

    Hi Dan,
    Thank you very much for your response. It does answer a lot of my questions.

    When the question is like “describe a situation where ….”, am I expected to describe a situation in professional (in my case academic) life? What if I never had such a situation? Is it OK to describe a situation in personal or extracurricular life? Also, how old that example should be?
    Also, when I had this behavioral interview for GE, the interviewer later told me that they were not satisfied with some of the answers and that to some of the questions, I decribed more than one situation that falls into same category. I don’t know if it is right to give one example or more than one?
    Also, I will have 5-6 one-on-one interviews. Two or more guys may ask me same questions. Do I have to repeat exactly same answers?

    Thanks, P

  3. site admin Says:
    Hi P,
    In the interview situation, interviewers are trying hard to learn about what you know, how well you communicate and listen, how you deal with different situations, what your attitude is and what your key performance factors are.

    In behavioral interviewing, you and other interviewees can state (1) could you rephrase your question so that I can better relate to what you wish to learn? (2) I cannot come up with an example of …. from my recent work history, however, I have experienced something similar in my personal life. And proceed with a STAR story. We are interested in your behaviors.

    If you are asked the same question by two or more guys, consider responding in the same fashion if you are satisfied with the response. They may be checking for consistency of responses.

    I hope this helps.
    Regards, Dan
  4. site admin Says:

    Hi Dan,
    I have made a list of possible questions that might be asked. These are listed below. Please have a look and let me know if you can think of any more questions.

    I am also preparing a list of questions to be asked. I will send that to you later.
    Regards,
    P

    List of questions:
     Short term/long term goals
     Situation where you could not meet your expectations
     Situation where you led a group
     Situation with uncooperative colleague
     Strengths/weaknesses
     Situation where you have to impress someone
     Teamwork experience
     What was the most challenging part in your Ph. D. research?
      Tell me about a situation when you had to speak up (be assertive) in order to get a point across that was important to you.
      Have you ever had to “sell” an idea to your co-workers or group? How did you do it? Did they “buy” it?
      How do you schedule your work or decide on priorities?
      Tell me about a situation in the past year in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
      Describe a time when you were faced with problems or stresses at work that tested your coping skills. What did you do?
      Give an example of a time when you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
      Give me an example of an important goal you had to set and tell me about your progress in reaching that goal.

    Thanks, P

  5. site admin Says:
    Hi P,
    The list of questions are good ones.
    Please let me go through them one by one and indicate those that I believe are behavioral and some things to think about in others. With the behavioral, please develop your STAR responses.

    List of questions:
    good, but not behavioral–                   Short term/long term goals think in terms of benefitting the company AND yourself;
    don’t know what skill this would reveal Situation where you exceeded your expectations 
                                                       YES Situation where you could not meet your expectations
                                                       YES Situation where you led a group 
                                                       YES Situation with uncooperative colleague 
                          good, but not behavioral Strengths/weaknesses
                                    think in terms of strength AND an example;
                                                             weakness AND what you are doing about it. 
    don’t know what skill this would reveal Situation where you have to impress someone 
                                                       YES Teamwork experience
                          good, but not behavioral Why are you interested in working for us
                                                             leading company, successful business models, excellent people to work with 
    typical introductory question, not behavioral What was the most challenging part in your Ph. D. research?
                                                         YES Tell me about a situation when you had to speak up (be assertive) in order to get a point across that was important to you. 
                                                         YES Have you ever had to “sell” an idea to your co-workers or group? How did you do it? Did they “buy” it?
                                                         YES How do you schedule your work or decide on priorities? 
                                                         YES Tell me about a situation in the past year in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
                                                         YES Describe a time when you were faced with problems or stresses at work that tested your coping skills. What did you do?
                                                          YES Give an example of a time when you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
                                                          YES Give me an example of an important goal you had to set and tell me about your progress in reaching that goal.

    Hope this helps,
    Dan

Leave a Reply