IT job interviews: Try the behavioral approach for a win-win

The job interview process is critical to the success of all organizations, and to the development of your career. Yet many job seekers and hiring managers still practice this key process as an art form rather than as a process structured for repeatable successful outcomes.

The good news is that there is a simple process that has been successfully used by firms as a best practice for the interview process. The better news is that job seekers can also use this same tool to stand out from the crowd.

This process is called behavioral-based interviewing, and it’s designed to collect job-related behavior from your past experience. As such, the basic structure of its interview questions includes the phrase, “Tell me about a time when…” or “Tell me about a situation where…”

How behavioral-based interviewing works for the hiring company
This approach works well and is highly valued by companies that use it, for several reasons. As stated above, a person’s past behavior is a good predictor of their future behavior in similar circumstances. This is why financial institutions place so much emphasis on your credit history – it’s a reflection of your past behavior related to managing your money.

It also brings a repeatable structure to what is too often an unstructured process. When a company applies behavioral-based interviewing to their job openings, they specify all the critical requirements of the job. This includes skills, qualities, knowledge, and behaviors most important for succeeding in the job.

They then create a list of questions specifically designed to uncover how well your experience matches their requirements. (This is actually similar to the process of designing test cases for a project’s test case register.)

How to use behavioral-based interviewing as a job seeker
The same properties that make behavioral-based interviewing valuable for hiring companies make it a potent tool for job seekers as well. Planning for a behavioral-based interview process prepares you to provide much higher-quality answers to any interview question, whether or not is based on the behavioral approach.

  1. Identify the key skills, qualities, knowledge, and behaviors most important for succeeding in the job you’re interviewing for.
  2. Identify two or three experiences you have in applying or using those behaviors. (You may want to use different examples with different interviewers. That way, when they compare notes after the interviews, they’ll get an even more impressive picture.)
  3. Practice telling your story for each experience a few times, until you can describe it easily and fairly briefly. (Give a short version as your initial answer and allow the interviewer to ask for more detail if they want it.)
  4. Once you have your arsenal of stories, keep an open mind during the interview, and be flexible. If you are asked a question for which you don’t have a perfect fit, respond along the lines of “I was in a situation somewhat like that one once where…”
  5. If you are in the early stages of your career, be creative and look to non-professional experiences that credibly demonstrate how you have performed in such a situation These might include college, high school, or even community or religious organizations. Read more via EnterprisersProject