Behavioral Interview Questions by Jennifer Hill (J Hill’s Career Consulting Services, LLC )
There is not much you can do to prepare for a behavioral interview. One tip I can give you that can enhance your chances of success in a behavioral interview is to come up with a list of at least 10 situations, including times where you overcame an obstacle or challenge, and how those situations were resolved. Below you will find a list of some of the more common behavioral interview questions:
Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure?
Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
Please discuss an important written document you were required to complete.
Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
Describe a situation when you or a group that you were a part of were in danger of missing a deadline. What did you do?
Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision.
Give me an example of a bad decision that you made and what you learned from that mistake?
Tell me about a time when something you tried to accomplish and failed. What did you learn from that failure?
Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).
Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.
Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
Give me an example of a time when you used your fact-finding skills to solve a problem.
Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem.
Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an un popular decision.
Have you handled a difficult situation with a co-worker? How?
What do you do when your schedule is interrupted? Give an example of how you handle it.
Tell me about a time when you delegated a project effectively.
Have you gone above and beyond the call of duty? If so, how?
Describe a decision you made that was unpopular and how you handled implementing it.
Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
Give an example of an occasion when you used logic to solve a problem.
There are several interview questions that are meant to trick you, and these questions require a little creative thinking. One such example is: “What sort of management style do you prefer: someone who micro-manages you or someone who gives you complete autonomy?”
This trick question forces the interviewee to pick a side. The average job candidate would choose one option over the other and then make a case for their decision. A top notch job candidate would think outside the box, and perhaps answer “Both.”
The trick to answering these difficult questions is to come up with a third option. The third option could sound something like this:
“I am looking to find a position where I can build a trusting relationship with whatever manager I wind up working for. I realize that trust is something that you have to earn, so I would expect that in the beginning I might need a little more guidance and direction. As time goes on, I hope to create a mutual understanding and a symbiotic relationship built on clear communication. As I gain more experience, I would hope the manager I work for would begin to give me more flexibility and to trust in my judgement.”
This is just one example of how you can transform an either or question into an opportunity to create something new. This method works with a variety of different situational questions. It is important never to leave the person you are interviewing with on the defensive. You always want to address the question that is being asked and come up with a creative solution that works for everyone.
“It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.” Moliere ” you someone that others can count on to show up? Are you someone who is accountable for your actions? Are there areas in your life that you are responsible for, but others that you let slide by?
Why is it that we always place blame, rather than take responsibility?
If you have done any of the following 5 things in the last 60 days, I would encourage you to ask yourself: How responsible am I?
1) Been late for an appointment or meeting
2) Not shown up for an event or commitment without calling to let anyone know
3) Cancelled plans with less then 24 hours notice
4) Missed a deadline for a project
5) Paid a bill late
If you have missed a deadline or appointment, it does not make you a bad person. Everyone has to cancel an appointment or push back a deadline from time to time. All that is there is to become aware of is how your actions directly relate to other people’s perception of you. If you are someone who is consistently late, or does not show up, chances are you might be viewed as someone who is unreliable or flaky. Being an individual who others can rely on is of the utmost importance. In order to have success both in life and in one’s career, others must be able to trust you and to know that they can count on you to keep your word. Every time you break a promise, others lose a little more faith in you, until one day, they no longer feel they can rely on you at all.
Below are the top 3 steps that you can take to transform your relationship to responsibility:
1) Do a personal assessment of where you are breaking your word and get in communication with those you have broken your word with
2) Get present to the fact that every action you take has an effect on those around you
3) Practice saying “No.” Only committ to things that you can accomplish, so that you will set realistic expectations for yourself and for others
Taking responsibility for yourself and your actions is the first step towards personal and professional success.
I network with hundreds of job seekers each month. I have found that many of these job seekers are becoming desolate and distraught from months and months of job hunting without seeing the results they want. Below are some suggestions of things YOU can do to boost your confidence and morale, and possibly make a little extra money while doing them.
1) Volunteer.Volunteering is a great way to gain valuable experience to make yourself more marketable, while at the same time, contributing to your community. If you do not know what type of place you would like to volunteer at, or where to find volunteer opportunities please check out www.volunteermatch.org/
2) Join Toastmasters. Joining Toastmasters is a great way to increase your confidence and your ability to communicate clearly. This is extremely important tool to have in interviews and in networking situations. To find your local Toastmasters go to: www.toastmasters.org
3) Join Meetup and/or Networking Groups. Often times, people become depressed from sitting at home and not having the social element that they are used to from having a job. A great way to combat this feeling of loneliness is to joining a networking group such as www.meetup.com or a job hunting networking group like www.pinkslipmixers.com
4) Take classes. Have you ever wanted to learn photography, writing or graphic design? There is no time like the present. You can take classes at UCLA, Santa Monica College, Westwood College, University of Phoenix or find a local college in your area that offers classes on a subject that interests you by going to: www.college.com
5) Start up an MLM Business. Some people may scoff at Multi-Level-Marketing Businesses, but the reason there are so many out there is because they work! With such a wide variety of products and business types, you have a plethora of choices of what type of business to go into and how much you want to invest. Some MLMs may require a significant investment, but others you can start for as little as $30 a year like Melaleuca. To find the right one for you go to: www.mlmrankings.com
6) Mystery Shop. Not a lot of people are familiar with Mystery Shopping or at least they do not talk about it for obvious reasons. Mystery Shopping can be a fast, easy and fun way to earn some extra money. In some cases you can even get reimbursed for food and lodging. Mystery Shopping is not for everyone, as you do have to be very observant and detail oriented, but for some, it is a great way to help supplement your income. Be careful of SCAMS! Some good websites to check out are: www.mysteryshop.org, www.sassieshop.com and www.bestmark.com
7) Take freelance/contract work on. Contract work is a great way to gain experience and knowledge in a field you might not be as strong in, check out a company’s atmosphere, as well as, offer you a chance to have a flexible schedule and make money at the same time. A few great ways to find contract work are through utilizing recruiters, checking out websites like www.jobsdirectusa.com or going to www.elance.com
8) Start a Blog. Blogging is not for everyone, although I highly recommend it! If you want to appear to be the expert in your field. There is no easier, cheaper way to become an expert then by blogging. It is important to pick a subject that inspires you and that you will want to write about every month. I personally recommend blogging at least once a week if not more. To start a blog on a website that offers free hosting, check out this great Mashable article about the top 40 free blogging sites.
9) Start your own Social Network. Have you ever wanted to start your own Social Network? If the answer is yes, it has never been easier or more fun. There is a website called: www.ning.com which allows you to build your own Social Network. It can be a business endeavour or it can be just for fun. Either way, it is a great way to further showcase your interests and talents.
10) Start a Business. Starting your own business may seem daunting at first, but it can be a wonderful way to help you make money while you are looking for a full time job. You never know, you might even wind up doing your new business full time. Chances are, you already are an expert in one area or another. You can easily take that expertise and launch a consulting business. Social Media tools like www.twellow.com, www.facebook.com and www.twitter.com make it simple to advertise for free and get your name out there. To learn more about how to start your own small business go to: www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/index.html
Typical Interview Questions to prepare for:
Tell me about yourself…
Why should we want to hire you?
Why would you like to work for us?
Why did you leave your last job/Why are you looking to leave your job?
What is your biggest weakness/strength?
What is your bottom line salary requirement or what are your salary expectations?
What makes you qualified for this job?
What do you know about this company?
What can you contribute to this company?
Are you overqualified for this position?
What motivates you?
What has been your biggest disappointment in life?
What was the biggest challenge/failure or success you have ever faced?
How do you handle pressure/stress?
Tell me about a time when you didn’t get along with your boss and how you handled it?
What type of work environment do you prefer?
Do you prefer to work independently or as part of a team?
Describe a time where you encountered a problem on a project and how you overcame it?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What are you looking for in your next position?
How do you plan to achieve those goals?
Panel interviews are typically twice as hard and half as much fun as regular interviews. Instead of trying to capture the attention of one cranky human resources professional, you are now responsible to entertain 2, 3 or sometimes even 5 interviewers at once. The question then becomes, how do you keep their attention in positive manner?
One suggestion I would make is to periodically address each interviewer by name. A job seeker recently shared a story with me, wherein she perceived that the interview did not go as well as she had hoped. One of the three people who was interviewing her seemed to be completely disinterested and practically ignored her. She asked me what she could have done differently, and I gave her the same advice I just gave you: take the time to address each person by name and focus on each individual as you are speaking.
If Interviewer A, lets call him Bob, is not giving you the time of day, then it is time to take more drastic measures. Bob may have other things on his mind, but you can quickly bring him back to earth and help him focus on what is important: YOU!
One method to draw an interviewer into focus is to direct a statement to the person whose attention you would like to capture:
“Bob, let me share with you some interesting ideas and strategies about X that I feel I could bring to the table.”
Bob’s lackadaisical attitude may have nothing to do with you, there for, it is critical not to take it personally. You should always maintain your enthusiasm, as well as a positive attitude.
It is important to be intentional in your speaking at all times, however, in the dreaded 3-some or panel situation, it is even more critical to be focused and engaged with each individual, especially if one seems aloof. All great speakers know that you have to speak to each person in the audience as if you were speaking with them one-on-one. The more eye contact and focus you have, the stronger your panel interview will come across!
Does being laid off represent Danger or Opportunity to you?
I would assert that whether you see a lay off as an opportunity or not is all in your point of view. Many people mistakenly have being laid off as the same thing as being fired. When you are fired that means a company has terminated you based on performance or some other element related to your work. However, when you are laid off, that simply means that there has been some sort of reduction in force or perhaps a change in the structure of the company.
If you can alter your perspective on having been laid off, then you can begin to see a lay off as an opportunity rather than a danger. Below are 3 ways that you could begin to look at a lay off as an opportunity:
1) Change in career-You can embrace your lay off as a chance to pursue the career you have always wanted, perhaps even open up your own business. Often times, job seekers can spend years or even decades in a career that is unsatisfying. Being laid off can give you the chance to re-invent yourself and what you are committed to. You can finally pursue what you are passionate about if you have not been doing so already.
2) Increase in salary-Yesterday, I was interviewing a high level executive who shared with me his story of how he was laid off in his prior position. At the time of the lay off he initially felt frustrated, as many people do. However, in the long run, he was extremely grateful for the upward mobility and the increase in pay the lay off afforded him. It would have been unlikely that he would have ever left the comfort of his old job had he not been laid off. He would have probably spent the next 10 years trying to achieve the same level in his career and increase in salary that he accomplished in less than 12 months in a new position!
3) Move up the ladder-After being in a job for many years you can begin to plateau. Sometimes you need a little fire to jump start your ambition and drive. By being laid off, you can reevaluate where you want to be in your current career. By doing this, you can shift your energies and focus to pursuing a promotion that you had long forgotten you desired. A new company means new bosses, a new environment, a new set of tasks to learn and opportunity for growth.
Opportunities can often come in different shapes and sizes. Sometimes an opportunity might even be disguised as a lay off. It is up to you to recognize an opportunity for what it is and to always be open to the possibilities that are available to you.
Social Media is taking off and is going in a variety of different directions. There are new Twitter affiliate sites and other Social Media related sites popping up all the time. So how do you differentiate which ones to pay attention to? You could spend hours upon hours researching them for yourself or you rely on someone else to look through all the information for you, and give you some recommendations like I am about to do.
In the last 10 months, I have been inundated with Social Media information, as I am sure many of you have as well. It has now become part of my job to help disseminate what information you need to know. Below are a list of my top 3 favorite Social Media Related Sites that I would recommend you familiarize yourself with:
1) www.mashable.com This is the “How To” guide for using Social Media. In my opinion, I think it may be one of the most valuable sites out there for any Social Media questions you may have
2) www.hootsuite.com This site is a “Twitter Dashboard.” It allows you to see who is Tweeting both about you and to you. It helps you organize your Tweets by scheduling them in advance, and keeping track of who is re-tweeting your messages. You can also use this to help shrink your URLs so that you can get more bang for your buck.
3) www.ping.fm.com This site allows you to “ping” your 140 character status update to as many affiliated Social Media Websites that you would like. Rather than taking the time to update your status on Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin and Twitter individually you could simply link up to your Ping account and send out your status update to all 4 at once. You can also use it to ping out your blog.
To set up a private Social Media training or class email Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org
For a full list of Top Social Media Websites go to: http://www.prelovac.com/vladimir/top-list-of-social-media-sites
I was recently having coffee with a friend where we were discussing the state of the economy and my upcoming book. I was explaining my rationale behind writing the book, is to inspire people to achieve their dreams and find something they are passionate about, that pays them well. During this conversation, my friend raised an interesting question: “What if some people simply have no desire do to be successful?”
I have to admit, I was rather dumbfounded by this. I asked her to elaborate, as this seemed like a foreign concept to me. Doesn’t everyone want to be successful in their own right? Her response was one that caused me to pause and think. She explained that we all live in a fish bowl, however, because the fish bowl is glass, and there for transparent, it is almost impossible to see the fish bowl that you are in. She shared with me a cathartic moment she had experienced, where she was able to see herself from outside the fish bowl. What does this mean? It means that, from her perspective, most of us go through our day to day lives swimming about in our fish bowl, unaware that there is anything available outside of what we can conceive. For a certain few though, they realize the limitations the fish bowl imposes upon them, and they choose to live a life outside of the fish bowl, where things are less certain, but anything is possible.
It is a fact that people who choose to live outside the fish bowl can still see into it, however, they embrace the uncertainty and the unease that comes from living on the outside. A wise person once said, “If you are not expanding, then you are contracting.” The same could be said for the people who choose to free themselves of their constraints. They are fearless in the face of the unknown, and in being unstoppable, they can often achieve their dreams.
The important point about the fish bowl is that those who are in the fish bowl and are content to be in the fish bowl, should not be forced to live a life outside of the fish bowl, outside of their comfort zone. If someone chooses to spend their life or career swimming in the fishbowl, with no ambition to ever attain success or even possible failure by leaving their comfort zone, those outside of the fish bowl should NEVER force anyone to embrace the alternative option.
Look at your life. Are you content to simply “go with the flow,” and live a life where you might not ever achieve your dreams, but you might have a great life? If living a simple life works for you, then there is no need to change.
If instead, you are someone who wants everything that life has to offer, and is not afraid of possible failure, then embrace your fears in working towards success. Acknowledge that you have spent your entire life being comfortable, but if you are truly committed, you can choose to leave the fish bowl and carve out your own path. Failure may come, often more than once, but if you persevere the rewards on the other side of the glass with be plentiful.
My benefit is to offer people tools to set measurable goals, minimize fear, and achieve their dreams. For information about working together please email me: email@example.com
Posted by Jennifer Hill at 11/12/2009 3:34 PM
Over the years I have had the chance to get to know hundreds of C-level Executives and hiring managers, the question on all of their minds, when you go in for an interview, is: “How are YOU going to make my life easier?”
Regardless if they are the executive you will be directly reporting to, or the Human Resources Manager responsible for hiring you, they all have one thing in common, they want to look good. Everyone has someone they are responsible for reporting to, even a CEO has to report to their investors and/or board members. In an interview, it is YOUR JOB, to convey to the person that you are interviewing with how you are going to make their life easier and make them look good to their superiors.
One of the ways you can do this is through giving examples of your PEP. Employers want to hire people with PEP. What is PEP? PEP is Productivity, Efficiency and Performance. In order for you to effectively share your PEP with the executive during your interview, you must be able to clearly communicate what you are going to do for them and how doing that will alleviate some of their stress, while making them look great at the same time.
To find your personal PEP, look at your past work experience, and pinpoint examples of where you have increased the overall Productivity, Efficiency and/or Performance of the organization that you worked for. It is important to be able to explain the problem that you solve and the group of people that you solve it for in relation to the position you are applying for. You should be able to concisely explain what actions you have taken in the past that have had you be effective, and how that effectiveness, in turn, led to a smoother and less stressful working environment.
It is not about you, it is about them. Do not just tell the executive WHAT you did, but also tell them how that impacted the company’s performance and how you will be able to apply your PEP in your next position. Find out what problem is that the executive needs solved, and then formulate a solution and explain how that plan will be executed effectively. By doing this, you will be able to make a strong case for why YOU should be the next person they hire.
Posted by Jennifer Hill 11/9/2009 9:55 AM
Jennifer Hill’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In these tough economic times, I am finding that a lot of clients are getting low-balled when offer time comes around. The question then becomes: Should I lower my salary requirements and …
J Hill’s Career Consulting Services (Jennifer Hill)- provides coaching and counseling to job seekers who are looking to make a move and/or are in transition. JHCCS provides one-on-one coaching solutions, in addition to monthly webinars and workshops.
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