Interview Preparation: Get Ready for a Great Conversation

Most interviews include of a mix of standard probing or interrogative and behavioral questions. Standard probing interview questions give the interviewer information about the candidates background, current situation and explore functional and technical fit for the job. It is easy to remember probing questions as they typically begin with “how, what, when or where“?

  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What is your work style?
  • How did you get along with your last manager?
  • How would your peers/subordinates describe you?
  • What software applications are you proficient in using?

Probing questions are the “getting to know you” part of an interview. Another style of interviewing known as behavioral interviewing may also be used during by the hiring team. Behavioral interviewing is used to understand your work style, how you solve problems, and get along with others. Behavioral interview questions challenge the candidate to give their unique answer to questions related to the specific behaviors that the organization has determined will be required to be successful in that job.

Not sure how to approach preparing for a behavioral interview? Here’s a strategy to get you ready to take on behavioral interviewing questions you may encounter.

Remember, there is no “correct” answer to a behavioral interview question. The “correct” answer is “your” answer. These are some quick steps to help you prepare for that important step in the hiring process: the face-to-face interview.

  1. Look at the job description and identify the behaviors described that have been identified to be successful in the job.
  2. Pull the competencies from the job description and look at the list of behavioral competencies [strengths] from A – W below for the behavior described or a similar one.
  3. Prepare your responses in STAR format. Get ready to provide evidence of your accomplishments.
  4. Practice! Use a video cam or friend to practice your answers. Get comfortable with your STARs and build your confidence level.

Prepare for a conversation, not an interrogation. Don’t forget to breathe! Smile! You have unique value. Show us what you’ve got!

Copyright © M. P. Fuger, 2012

————————————————————————————————————–

SAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

The “Big Three”

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are you weakness?

Examples of Probing Questions

  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What is your work style?
  • What is your management style?
  • What are your future career plans?
  • What do you like to do in your free time?
  • How did you get along with your last manager?
  • How would your peers/subordinates/last manager describe you?

Adaptability Describe a major change that occurred in a job that you held. How did you adapt to this change? Tell us about a situation in which you had to adjust to changes over which you had no control.

Ambition Describe a time when you made a suggestion to improve the work in your organization. Give an example of an important goal that you set in the past.

Work Ethic Give two examples of things you’ve done in previous jobs that demonstrate your willingness to work hard.

Building Relationships Give a specific example of a time when you had to address an angry customer. What was the problem and what was the outcome? How would you asses your role in diffusing the situation? It is very important to build good relationships at work but sometimes it doesn’t always work. If you can, tell about a time when you were not able to build a successful relationship with a difficult person.

Communication Describe a situation when you were able to strengthen a relationship by communicating effectively. What made your communication effective? Describe a situation where you felt you had not communicated well. How did you correct the situation? Describe the most significant written document, report or presentation which you had to complete. Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person, even when that individual may not have personally liked you , or vice versa.

Conflict Resolution Describe a time when you took personal accountability for a conflict and initiated contact with the individual(s) involved to explain your actions.

Decision Making Some people consider themselves to be “big picture people” and others are “detail oriented”. Which are you? Give an example of a time when you displayed this. Tell us me about a situation when it was important for you to pay attention to details. How did you handle it? Discuss an important decision you have made regarding a task or project at work. What factors influenced your decision? Everyone has made some poor decisions or has done something that just did not turn out right. Has this happened to you? What happened?

Attention to Details Describe a situation where you had the option to leave the details to others or you could take care of them yourself.

Evaluating Alternatives What kinds of decisions are most difficult for you? Describe one? Who made the decision?

Flexibility What do you do when you are faced with an obstacle to an important project? Give an example. When you have difficulty persuading someone to your point of view, what do you do? Give an example.

Process Control How did you keep track of delegated assignments? How do you evaluate the productivity/effectiveness of your subordinates? How do you get data for performance reviews? How do you keep track of what your subordinates are doing?

Initiative – Drive for Results What changes did you develop at your most recent employer?

Interpersonal Skills Describe a situation in which you were able to effectively “read” another person and guide your actions by your understanding of their needs and values. Tell us about the most difficult or frustrating individual that you’ve ever had to work with, and how you managed to work with them. What have you done in past situations to contribute toward a teamwork environment?

Integrity Give examples of how you have acted with integrity in your job/work relationship. Trust requires personal accountability. Can you tell about a time when you chose to trust someone? What was the outcome?

Introducing Change Have you ever had to introduce a policy change to your work group? How did you do it? Have you ever met resistance when implementing a new idea or policy to a work group? How did you deal with it? What happened?

Leadership Give an example of a time in which you felt you were able to build motivation in your co-workers or subordinates at work

Negotiating Describe the most challenging negotiation in which you were involved. What did you do? What were the results for you? What were the results for the other party?

Organizational How do you decide what gets top priority when scheduling your time? What do you do when your schedule is suddenly interrupted? Give an example.

Performance Management Give an example of a time when you helped a staff member accept change and make the necessary adjustments to move forward. What were the change/transition skills that you used. Give an example of how you have been successful at empowering either a person or a group of people into accomplishing a task

Persuasion Describe a situation where you were able to use persuasion to successfully persuade someone to see things your way. Have you ever had to persuade a group to accept a proposal or idea? How did you go about doing it? What was the result?

Planning and Organization Describe how you develop a project team’s goals and project plan? How do you schedule your time? Set priorities? How do you handle doing twenty things at once?

Presentation How do you prepare for a presentation to a group of technical experts in your field? How would you describe your presentation style? Tell us about the most effective presentation you have made. What was the topic? What made it difficult? How did you handle it?

Problem Solving Give a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.

Resource Management Tell us about a time when you organized or planned an event or project that was very successful.

Self Assessment Give me an example of an important goal that you had set in the past and tell me about your success in reaching it. If there were one area you’ve always wanted to improve upon, what would that be? In what ways are you trying to improve yourself? What do you consider to be your professional strengths? Give me a specific example using this attribute in the workplace.

Setting Priorities Have you ever been overloaded with work? How do you keep track of work so that it gets done on time?

Sound Judgment Describe a situation when you had to exercise a significant amount of self-control. Give me an example of a time in which you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.

Teamwork Describe a situation in which you had to arrive at a compromise or help others to compromise. What was your role? What steps did you take? What was the end result? Please give your best example of working cooperatively as a team member to accomplish an important goal. What was the goal or objective? To what extent did you interact with others on this project? Some people work best as part of a group – others prefer the role of individual contributor. How would you describe yourself? Give an example of a situation where you felt you were most effective.

Time Management/Schedule Describe a situation that required you to do a number of things at the same time. How did you handle it? What was the result? How do you determine priorities in scheduling your time? Give an example.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s