By Shannon Jackson
Special to The Toronto Sun
Let's face it, being interviewed is near the top of most people's list of stressful activities.
Compound that natural anxiety with the fact that interviews are just plain getting tougher as the process of recruitment becomes more sophisticated, and you end up with very nervous job seekers.
Why are interviews seeming harder to get through? Employers are using a technique called "behaviour-based interviewing" to select new hires. Behavioural interviews are based on the premise that past performance is the best predictor of future performance, and it increases an employer's chance of picking the best candidate for the job by 68 per cent!
In a behavioural interview, the interviewer prepares questions in advance that will be asked of every candidate considered.
They begin by identifying the core competencies required for the role for which they are hiring.
Core competencies are those "soft skills" that differentiate an average performer from an exceptional one.
Once they have their list of the most important competencies, they create questions that will draw on a candidate's past work experience, requiring them to utilize these competencies.
How do you know when you are being asked behavioural questions?
You are asked to give specific examples of when you have encountered situations in the past. These questions begin with statements like, "tell me about a time when," or "describe a situation where," or "give me a specific example of."
There are two common traps that people fall into when answering these questions.
The first is the failure to be specific. The employer is looking for you to offer one example of when you've encountered this situation, and they want to know what you specifically contributed.
Avoid answers that draw on collective experience (i.e. "we would usually"), and answer in specific ("I remember one time when I encountered that situation.").
The second common trap is the failure to answer the question. This often happens when the candidate is nervous of silent pauses.
If you need to take a moment to think of a situation relevant to the question you've been asked, that's okay. Take the moment.
Silence is okay
It is better to sit silent for a minute while you think of the right answer than to begin talking about some scenario unrelated to the question you've been asked.
The best answer to a behavioural question is three or four sentences long.
One sentence provides an overview of the situation.
The second describes your contribution.
The third states the outcome.
The fourth offers an explanation of how your behaviour could benefit the hiring organization.
A google search for behavioural interview questions can give you some great examples of what you may face at the interview.
Have a friend ask you questions, and practice answering using the above formula.
Good luck in your job search efforts.
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