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MBA Career News: Strategically Answering Behavioral Interview Questions

MBA Career News: Strategically Answering Behavioral Interview Questions - mbaMissionIn this new blog series, our mbaMission Career Coaches offer invaluable advice and industry-related news to help you actively manage your career. Topics include building your network, learning from mistakes and setbacks, perfecting your written communication, and mastering even the toughest interviews. To schedule a free half-hour consultation with one of our mbaMission Career Coaches, click here.

Behavioral questions and prompts (e.g., “Tell me about a time when you…”) can help a hiring manager understand your ability to do a job, because your answers are a good predictor of your future success. Expect behavioral questions to focus on the competencies required for you to excel in your target role.

Our top five tips for successfully addressing behavioral questions are as follows:

  1. Brainstorm your six to eight biggest accomplishments. Make note of which competencies (e.g., leadership, teamwork, analytics, persuasion) each story addresses or can be tweaked to address.
  2. Start your story with a headline (i.e., a road map) that shows you are directly answering the question. And consider concluding your story by describing what you learned from the experience and/or how the experience makes you more interested in or qualified for the role.
  3. Use a structured framework to answer the question in a concise manner (roughly 90 to 120 seconds). Consider using the Situation-Actions-Result framework:
    • Situation – Give enough information that the hiring manager has sufficient context to understand your actions. (This part should account for approximately 10%–15% of your answer time.)
    • Actions – Describe the actions you took. Make sure your actions illustrate the attribute you are demonstrating. Speak in terms of “I” versus “we.” (This part should account for roughly 70% of your answer time.)
    • Result – What happened? Quantify your impact. What did you accomplish? How did your actions benefit the group, department, company, or client? (This part should account for approximately 10%–15% of your answer time.)
  4. Prepare for follow-up questions/prompts such as these:
    -What happened after that?
    -What did you say?
    -How did you feel about that?
    -Why did you decide to do that?
    -What was your thought process?
    -Tell me more about your interaction with X.
    -How did you achieve X?
  5. Practice, practice, and practice (out loud)! Think about your content as well as your delivery (word choice, confidence, nonverbal cues, etc.).

Use these sample behavior questions/prompts to get started:

  • Tell me about a time when you had to adjust to changes that were beyond your control. How did you handle that situation?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work on a team with someone with whom you did not get along. What happened?
  • Tell me about a team project you led.
  • Tell me about a time when you successfully resolved a conflict.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision without having all the information you needed to do so.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to “sell” an idea to coworkers or management.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to analyze information and make a recommendation.
  • Tell me about a situation in which you had to solve a difficult problem.
  • Tell me about a time when you devised an innovative solution to a problem.
  • Tell me about a time when you failed.

Have you been admitted to business school? If so, do you want to get a head start on defining your career goals? Do you need help preparing for job interviews or learning how to effectively network with your target employers? Or maybe you want to be a top performer in your current role but are unsure how to maximize your potential. Let an mbaMission Career Coach help via a free 30-minute consultation!


December 7, 2016

MBA Career News


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