We have all heard the general interview drill: do your research on the company, have your resume printed, prepare a few questions, look presentable, turn your cell phone off, relax a little and do NOT wear perfume or cologne.  However, if you have never interviewed, or if it has been some time since your last interview, behavioral questions have recently come into popularity. Behavioral interview questions, in a nutshell, are when the interviewer interacts with your resume. They want to see beyond what you included on paper, to challenges, triumphs and other significant events. The questions help bring your experience to life for someone who most likely does not know anything about you, so you need to be prepared to tell your side of the story. Here are the top 3 behavioral interview questions, and strategies to help you navigate them.

“So, please, tell us about a time when you…”

…worked effectively under pressure.
This question should be easy to grab from experience be it school projects or 10 years in management. Let’s face it, not everything in life is easy, but how we handle it can help define who we are. Brainstorm a few projects that you have worked on that had deadlines with specific deliverables due. How did you complete these tasks? You should be able to look back and reflect on how you prioritized, delegated or improvised to meet the end goal. If you really want to be prepared, look at the flip side and how you did not meet your goal. How did you deal with adversity or failure? You can talk about how you bounced back for success.

…handled a difficult co-worker/ manager/ customer.
If you tell your interviewer that you have never come across someone who was difficult, high strung, high maintenance or demanding in an unproductive way, they will know you are lying. Even if the person is someone you worked with on a school project, that would be experience enough. How did you work with this person to get your job done? What challenges did you face with them/ your incompatibility, and how did you find ways to get over the issues? These questions could be applied to both co-workers and managers in similar ways. With difficult customers, it is important to see how you handled their problem effectively. How did you diffuse the situation so that you could fix their issue? Did you effectively escalate any issues to managers if they only wanted to speak to someone else? Did they leave wanting to purchase a good/ service from your company again?

…were creative in solving a problem.
There is more than one way to cross a river, so tell your interviewer how you made it across! I used to enter data at my last company. When I found inefficiencies, I decided to do independent reporting to see where the gaps were. I was then able to cut down the time it took to do one part of my job so that I could more effectively do the rest.   How did you look at inefficient processes, complex projects or status quo programs and change them for the better? You have done more than you initially think!

We hope that you have enjoyed the third installment focused on helping experienced professionals get back in the game through priority setting, job searching and interviewing! Just don’t forget to write that thank you note…

Elyse LopezAuthor: Elyse Lopez