4 Tips for your In-Person/Behavioral Interview

(1) GET THE SCOOP IN ADVANCE

Don’t shy away from asking questions. Ask the recruiter if s/he can share a bit about the team you’re meeting with, what questions they’re likely to ask, what will be emphasized, how early you should arrive, and what the dress code is. I provide this information freely (I like to empower candidates to put their best foot forward).

If you’re given an opportunity to casually interact with the recruiter, ask for feedback on how you’re doing. If you’re given real feedback (e.g., talk more about the tactics you used to grow the accounts), be sure to implement that feedback during the next interview round. Doing so demonstrates your openness and adaptability (traits common to team players).

(2) GET YOUR STORY STRAIGHT

By now, you’ve probably heard of “behavioral interviews.” Behavioral interviews = sharing real stories of how you behaved at work.

Behavioral interviews seek to uncover whether you walk the talk. That’s because there’s a difference between articulating how to do your job well and actually doing your job well.

Remember, the best team members (1) have skills that get results; (2) have emotional discipline (mature/professional); and (3) are team players. We want to hear real-life examples of you behaving in these ways, in real-life.

How to prepare for a behavioral interview?

Behavioral interviews are tough because it’s extremely difficult to recall real-life job stories in a nerve-racking interview environment.

So… prepare your stories in advance!

First, recall the moments you shined at work. Put together a list of these stories.

Second, take a look at the job description. Assume that the job duties are written in order of importance (the order is not random). For example, if I’m applying for a job in HR, and the first job duty is recruiting, it means I should talk about my recruiting experience.

Finally, pair the job duties with your relevant stories.

During the actual interview, you know it’s a behavioral question if it goes something like: “tell us about a time when…” Don’t lose your cool, just flip through your prepared stories in your head, find the one that fits, smile, and tell the story. What distinguished you in these moments? How did you grow because of them? Flesh out the specific details. Let’s hear it — be real.

For example:

Q: “Tell us about a time you were out-of-the-box.”

A: “I was searching for an AV engineer for months. After striking out on LinkedIn and Indeed, I snuck into the LA Auto Show during setup. I passed out a stack of business cards, and yes, I got a handful of qualified resumes because of it. I didn’t end up hiring any of those folks, but I would do it again because…”

Practice your stories over and over, out loud. What’s important is that the stories are specific in illustrating how you behaved on the job.

(3) GET AN INSIDER CONNECTION

Look at your LinkedIn connections, scope out the team, and see if you can get someone on the inside to vouch for you. This one is pretty straightforward — referrals are a vote of confidence (which is what interviewing is all about).

(4) WRITE YOUR QUESTIONS DOWN

Imagine it’s your first day at your new gig. You’re at your new desk, ready to work. Come up with questions with that moment in mind. You want your questions to demonstrate that you’re geared toward executing the work.

Some generic questions I like:

  • What’s the first thing I’ll likely be working on?
  • What separates a person who is great in this role from someone who is just good?
  • What advice would you give me for succeeding in this role?
  • What’s a problem this role needs to resolve?

And yes, of course, you should study a bunch on the company, team, industry, and competition. Personally, I don’t expect a candidate to know everything about our company, but I do expect the candidate to thoughtfully consider (in advance) why it could be a fit.

And, the most memorable/sincere question I was ever asked:

  • Is the company ready for the kind of growth I will bring?

(that candidate was hired)

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