Preparing for Behavior Descriptive Interviews

A new trend in interviewing is to use behavior descriptive interview techniques.  Rather than asking you to project what you would do in a hypothetical situation, the potential employers ask you to describe past behavior.  They may ask you a time when:

  • You showed initiative at work
  • You handled a difficult situation
  • There was a conflict with your coworkers
  • You disagreed with a supervisor

What they will ask will depend on what the job requires.  For example, if they are looking for an applicant who is a great multi-tasker, they may ask you to describe a time when you felt overwhelmed and how you handled it.

Here are some tips for preparing for a behavior descriptive interview:

  • Assess the job requirements and anticipate the kind of situations they may ask you about.
  • Prepare stories ahead of time, keeping the job requirements in mind.  They should be work related, but can also include volunteer work or school projects.
  • Be prepared to describe a time when things went wrong and you put a positive spin on it.
  • You might have to think on your feet!  If a question catches you off guard, take your time coming up with an appropriate answer.
  • Always be honest; interviewers are likely to ask follow-up questions to verify your answers.

WAI Staff

Whitman Associates is a professional staffing agency serving businesses and job seekers in the Washington, D.C. area. Since 1972, we’ve been dedicated to matching highly qualified candidates with a wide variety of temporary, temp-to-hire and permanent positions. We prioritize the needs of both our clients and candidates to ensure successful, lasting relationships.