Interview Tips- Behavioral Questions


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Easily the most popular blog post I have written for Pursuing PR is the one involving Interview Tips. Recently I attended a quick seminar from Cerner about their interview process and they brought to my attention that the most important questions asked by an organization are often the “behavioral” ones. Cerner explained that these questions are important because the “most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in similar situations.”

I did briefly touch on these questions in my previous post, they are the questions that generally begin with “tell me about a time when…” The interviewer simply wants to understand how you have handled tough situations in the past. The best way to answer these questions is with a “STAR” formula.

S- Situation
T- Task
A- Action
R- Result

Identify a situation comparable to the question. Recognize the task that you were faced with in this scenario. Clearly explain the actions that you took. Finally, talk about the result and outcome of your actions in the situation. Be sure to explain the situation in story form.

It’s important to note that the outcome does not have to be positive. Often, it is important for the company to understand how you have dealt with failure in the past.

The best way to prepare for these questions is to identify 6-8 examples of past conflicts and learning experiences you have had in your professional life. For example, projects led, difficult conversations, times you over extended yourself. Be sure that some examples resulted in positive outcomes, while others ended negatively… yet you still made the best of it. Vary your examples to identify many different situations.

You may never feel completely prepared for an interview, but hopefully this helps!

-Rebecca

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