So, you’ve decided to apply for that really awesome job. You’ve managed to impress the hiring manager or recruiter in the preliminary phone screening. “Half way there!”, you might think. Think again. Few job seekers understand that the job interview is where the selection process really begins. Until now, all your desired future employer knows about you are your work history and your educational background. They may have gone as far as to glance at your volunteer experience and hobbies – but don’t take that for granted. On paper, you look like a viable candidate but so do all the others that have also been called for an interview. And chances are the competition is fierce, now that more people are in the market.
Now how do you make it into the round of finalists? A great way to start is by learning from the mistakes your competitors will make. A shockingly large number of candidates simply don’t prepare properly for the job interview. Most companies use behaviour-based interviewing styles in which the interviewer follows the mindset that past behaviour predicts future behaviour. The core of a behaviour-based interview is a set of questions where you are being asked to come up with specific examples. For instance, an interviewer might ask you to tell them about a situation where you had to deal with a particlularly difficult customer. The question is open and invites for rambling on and on. This is exactly what you don’t want to do. Instead, focus on answering any behaviour-based question within 2-3 minutes by following three simples steps:
1. Describe the situation.
2. Describe what actions you took.
3. Explain the results your actions had.
Regardless of the actual content of a behaviour-based interview question, the interviewer will always listen for how you approach a question. Don’t be shy about being specific. The more focused and specific your example, the better. Sure, it’s easy to simply start talking about a topic in generic terms. Try to refrain from falling into that trap. If you need to, take a moment to think about a question.
Behaviour-based interview questions is no secret. An interviewer will very likely formulate questions that key in on those requirements that have already been outlined in the job description. Read the job description thoroughly and think about examples from your experience where you displayed the competencies and qualities the job posting is asking for. In addition, try to do some research on your prospect employer. What is known about their work culture? Are there any blogs where (former) employees unveil the unique corporate culture? If you’re applying with a larger organization, take a close look at how the company brands itself on their career and recruiting sites. Preparing yourself for an interview by thinking about situations where you have shown a certain behaviour that is of importance for a position will give you a remarkable advantage compared to other candidates.