Behavioral interviewing is an interviewing technique created in the 1970s by industrial psychologists that has become quite popular with employers. The premise behind behavioral interviewing is that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation. For those unfamiliar with this interviewing style, a behavioral interview can be a challenging experience.
Unlike traditional interviewing, which requires opinion-based answers to questions (Tell me about yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why do you want to work for this company?), behavioral interviewing requires job candidates to relate stories about their past employment behaviors. These stories are prompted by questions directly related to the skill sets the company has determined are needed for a position.
So, if a particular job requires strong communication and team- building skills, then, in a behavioral interview, candidates would be asked to recount past accomplishments in those areas. Behavioral interview questions often start with phrases like, "Tell me about a time when..." or "Describe a situation in which..." or "Give me an example of..."
The challenge with the behavioral-interviewing style is that, while your skills and experiences could be a perfect match for a position you are seeking, an interviewer could discount your candidacy if you are unprepared for, or struggle with, the behavioral-interview format.
So, how do you prepare for a behavioral interview? First, you'll want to put yourself in the shoes of the prospective employer and imagine what the ideal candidate for the position you are considering would look like from the hiring decision-maker's perspective. Then, take some time to thoroughly review the job posting and job description if you can get it) and research the company and its culture. Look for cues about which skills are necessary for the job and which are highly valued by the organization. Then, based on your research, identify the skills the successful candidate would have and the behavioral-based questions that correlate to those skills and might be asked in an interview.