By Alka Chandiramani

Did you know that approximately 30% of companies use an interviewing technique called ‘Behavioral Interviewing’? For those of us on the other side of the interviewing desk, this is basically an interviewing technique an interviewer uses to evaluate a candidate’s past experiences and behaviors.

It is based on the belief that past behavior and performance predicts future behavior and performance. What do employers evaluate in a ‘behavioral Interview’? Employers are looking for 3 types of skills: Content Skills, Functional – also called Transferable Skills, and Adaptive – also called Self-Management Skills. By doing so, the interviewer can determine the candidate’s potential for success based on actual past behaviors and experiences, instead of based on hypothetical questions.

The interviewer identifies the desired skills and behaviors needed for a particular job and then structures open-ended questions about the candidates’ past experiences to elicit detailed responses from the candidate. For example, if assertiveness is an important requirement for the job, the interviewer might ask “Tell me about a time you had to sell your idea to your manager or customer.” Or, if interpersonal skills are critical for the job, the interviewer could ask “Tell me about a situation in the past year in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker. What did you do to resolve it? How would it be different from the way you would resolve it today?”

The best way to answer these types of questions is to use your real-life examples instead of your opinions or theoretical statements. The interviewer wants to know what you have done in the past, not what you think you would do in the future.

One way to structure your answer is by using the STAR Interview Response Technique. STAR is an acronym for four key steps that candidates can use to answer a behavioral interview question.

Situation: Describe the context in which you faced a challenge at work. For example, perhaps a group project, or a conflict with a coworker. This may relate to a work situation, a volunteer position, or any other relevant event.

Task: Describe your responsibility in that situation. Perhaps there were tight deadlines to meet, or you had to resolve a conflict with a coworker, or hit a sales target.

Action: Describe how you completed the task or endeavored to meet the challenge. Focus on what you did, rather than what your team, boss, or coworker did.

Result: Finally, explain the outcomes or results generated by the action taken. It may be helpful to emphasize what you accomplished, or what you learned.

Whatever examples you select, make sure they are as closely related to the job you’re interviewing for as possible.