Buchtel College of Arts & Sciences - Careers

Skills - Interviews - Behavioral Method

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  • Skills - Interviews - Behavioral Method

It is extremely important that an interviewee prepare for this as a possible contingency because the method has grown in favor with current employers over the last decade. The recruiters spend days learning to ask legal questions, so you must plan and understand what these recruiters are seeking from you during the interview!

Concentrate on recent job-related experiences, professional association experiences, or classroom examples. Avoid personal/family examples, religious organization or non-degree related association examples.

Remember that in this type of interview, the interviewee is consistently asked to explain how or why s/he did certain jobs or behaved in certain siutations to provide an indication of how s/he will function within prospective workplace. Why? Because the best predictor of future behavior is recent, past behavior.

Statements/Questions (always in the past tense) such as "Tell me about a time that you . . . " or "Think back on a situation where you . . . " or "Play a little movie in your mind and remember a time when you . . . " are not unusual statements in a behavior interview.

~Thanks to jobweb.com, Spring 2009.


Take time to think through your answer and then respond, such as:

  • Situation: Explain the situation. Was it a class team? What was the project? What was difficult about the team?

  • Action What did YOU specifically - not "them" or "we" - do to pull the team together? Talk about your role in the situation.

  • Outcome Discuss outcome of project/team: Did team succeed? How did you know team was successful?

  • Learning Sometimes you will be asked for an example of failure. If recruiter doesn't ask what you learned and how you modified your behavior, be certain to add this information to your answer (in specifics) about exactly what you learned and how you've incorporated this learning into your daily routine.

  • TIP: Think about import personal milestones: projects, grades, presentations, work experiences and build your examples around these when answering questions. By using your best examples, you will be able to clearly and concisely tell your story to the interviewer!


Use the company's words read in the job description or advertisement to convey the best examples you can provide that will demonstrate the attributes the company has posted as position requirements and convey the standard attributes that many companies seek such as:

  • Strong communicator
  • Adaptable or flexible
  • Team player
  • Self-directed/Self-motivated
  • Honest with integrity
  • Goal- and deadline-oriented
  • Strong follow-through

Additional Tips from Dana Pulliam, Sr. Mgr. of University Relations for Applied Biosystems:

  • Make certain your response is clear and concise. Watch interviewer's body language. If s/he seems uninterested, wrap up your answer.
  • The worst thing you can do is make up an answer. If you can't think of an answer, say so. Don't try to bluff your way through because the interviewer will know!
  • Before admitting to not having a response, stop and think about class projects, group projects, or even an activity that is not school-related.
  • Use your career services to look for sample questions and participate in mock interviews.
  • Personal examples in place of professional examples will work, but not for every question.
  • The best students are those who are able to speak to everything on their resume!


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