By Ogo Ogbata
The following pointers will help you excel at behavioural interviews:
1. Become Career Wise - It is important that you first of all define what you want to get out of the behavioural interview. Would you be content with an average performance or do you dare to be outstanding? Are you seeking valuable interview experience or are you determined to make a major career change? Does the role fit in nicely with your long term career goals or will it merely be a stopgap? Before commencing interview preparations, take time to identify and define your career objectives.
2. Get Nosy - Whilst preparing for your behavioural interview, bear in mind that employers are searching for multi talented individuals with experiences, knowledge, behaviours and skills that will add long term value to their organisations. Thankfully prospective employers don't expect you to figure out these desirable talents and behaviours all by yourself; they provide plenty of information via job advertisements and specially trained career personnel. Way before the behavioural interview, it is wise to ring your prospective employer and ask if you can come round and spend some time at the recruiting department. During sit-ins at the recruiting department, be sure to closely observe appropriate employees (e.g. the staff you will be working closely with if hired) for the talents and behaviours that the advertised job demands. Whether or not your prospective employer is able to arrange a sit-in, find out as much as you can about the company by visiting its website, speaking to its staff, reading relevant press articles and asking family and friends for helpful information.
3. Master the Ad - Job advertisements are often filled with clues as to the specific talents and behaviours employers find desirable. If you are serious about your career change, read job ads slowly and carefully until key points have been committed to memory. Pay particular attention to the style of language in which the advert has been written. For instance an upbeat style implies that the company is informal in its approach whereas a serious tone is typical of more conservative organisations. After you've read the ad at least five times, grab a pen and map out three separate columns on blank paper. In the first column, write down all the skills and talents required to perform the job successfully (e.g. computer, supervisory and organisational skills), in the second column write down the typical behaviours required of you (e.g. career minded, self starter and team player) and in the third column list the ethos and values of the organisation (e.g. creative, puts the customer first and so on). Next, read the ad a few more times to make sure all the useful information have been extracted from it. Memorise the lists in the three columns repeatedly.
4. Make Believe - You will improve your performance at behavioural interviews if you can first put yourself in the prospective interviewer's shoes. Imagine for a moment that you are the person conducting the behavioural interview. Would you hire yourself? What kind of interviewee would you be on the lookout for? Which questions would you ask candidates at the interview? What sort of talents and behaviours would you find indispensable? Write down your thoughts and ideas and take them into account as you prepare for the behavioural interview.
5. Know Thyself - Do you know who you are? Generic personality tests aside, have you made concerted effort to discover your purpose in life? Before attending your behavioural interview, take time to find hidden talents and discover your unique purpose. Employers love behavioural questions because they are an excellent tool for discovering talents and behaviours that candidates may not even be aware of. For instance, when a behavioural interviewer asks you to 'give an example of how you dealt with a difficult colleague in the past', that interviewer is trying to find out if you are a talented people manager. By narrating the various ways in which you have gotten the best out of difficult co-workers, you are demonstrating your people skills whether or not you have ever thought of yourself as a people person. However, interviewees who know themselves to be talented people managers will be able to prepare real life case studies that showcase their people management skills to maximum advantage. It certainly pays to be self aware when preparing for a behavioural interview.
6. Use the Clues - Return to the lists of talents and behaviours that are crucial to the job role and ask yourself how many of those qualities you possess. Reflect on your career history, paying mind to the many ways you have demonstrated these desirable talents and behaviours in the past. For instance if adaptability is one of the desirable behaviours, ask yourself when you have had to adjust to changes over which you had no control. If ambition is one of the desirable attributes, ask yourself the last time you undertook a project that demanded plenty of initiative. Recall projects or ideas that were implemented primarily because of your efforts. Think of numerous real life examples that demonstrate your willingness to adapt to change. Repeatedly practice likely questions based on the talents and behaviours you extracted from the job ad. Search engine searches will also throw up websites that list frequently asked questions.
To be honest, people who fare best at behavioural interviews are those who have taken the time to find hidden talents and discover their purpose in life. By passionately communicating how your talents and purpose complement your prospective employer's ethics, values and business objectives, you can put yourself head and shoulders above your competitors and make the career changes you desire.
Ogo Ogbata is a multi-talented writer, speaker and consultant. Author of the forthcoming non fiction title, 'Creativity and Sense: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love', she empowers people to find hidden talents, discover their purpose and create financially rewarding work that allows time and energy for what matters most in life. She also helps entrepreneurs get more fulfilment and profit out of their businesses.
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