The best way to answer a behavioral question is with a short story. Stories provide the evidence to support your claims and there is a simple structure to them: S-A-R, an acronym for Situation – Action – Result.
Describe the situation/problem that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand.
Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did -- not the efforts of the team. Don't tell what you might do, tell what you did.
What did you accomplish? What were the results? Quantify the results whenever possible. How did the event end? What did you learn?
In reality you won’t need more than probably a half dozen stories to cover all the bullet points found in most job descriptions. One story can be told from a variety of points of view and address multiple themes.
Questions You Can Ask
Here are some good questions that you can take with you to any interview. Click here for a more extensive list. Can you think of others?
About the Job
- Can you describe a typical day/week?
- What are the biggest challenges I will face?
- What are the opportunities for advancement?
About the Company / Division
- What are the company’s goals/objectives?
- Describe the corporate culture.
The Hiring Manager (or Peers)
- Describe what happened to the person who previously held this position.
- Describe your management style.
- What do I need to accomplish in the first 3/6/12 months to be successful in this role?
Closing the Interview
Make sure you understand what happens next and have permission to check in with the employer if you don’t hear from them by a certain date. Then be sure to express your strong interest in the position and in their organization. Make sure to get a business card from everyone you interview with before you leave! Without this information, follow-up is impossible.
Send a thank you note to the interviewer(s) within 24 hours of the interview. In the note, thank them for taking time out of their busy day to meet with you. Also remind them of your qualifications to meet their needs / solve their problems. Most thank you notes are sent via email these days. If you really want to impress someone go out and buy a box of Thank You cards at an office supply store and mail them a hand-written Thank You note. This will insure that you stand out from the competition because hardly anyone mails a Thank You card anymore.
- Remember: an interview is a sales call
- Bring a notebook and pen
- Bring copies of your resume (nice paper)
- Write down questions to ask
- Take notes (during and after the interview)
- Assess them as much as they assess you
- Remember: you have ZERO leverage until they make you an offer
- Take care of yourself so you can…
- BE YOURSELF!
24/7 Career Center
Q: When does the interview start?
A: When you enter the parking lot.
Q: When should I arrive for an interview?
A: 5-10 minutes early.