How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions

Published in CareersConnect, November 2011

By Alison Green

More and more often, job interviewers are jettisoning traditional interview questions in favor of behavioral questions. Job seekers who aren't prepared for these questions will often flub the interview entirely, so it's crucial to know that they're coming and to be prepared to answer them.

But let's start at the beginning: What are behavioral interview questions and why are employers using them?

Behavioral interview questions probe into what you've done in the past, not what you say you'd do in the future. More traditional interviews tend to rely heavily on hypothetical questions: How would you handle it if a customer did X? How do you think we should approach Y? What would you do if you were in danger of missing a deadline? It's not too hard to come up with good answers to these sorts of questions, even for people who don't perform well when they're actually on the job–which means that they're not of much real benefit to employers. 

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