I have been specializing in IT Recruitment for the past few years. It has been a very interesting and challenging journey, which allowed me to meet many professionals at various stages of their careers. In the past few years, I noticed that recruitment for IT professionals has changed. Our clients were no longer interested only in IT skills and the technical abilities of our candidates, but also their personalities and social skills (particularly for client facing positions).

This, I realized, presented a problem for some of my technically minded candidates. Although they fulfilled all the technical requirements and flew through the IT interview, they often failed the HR interview. From a personal point of view, this was very frustrating as many candidate and client efforts were wasted due to this fact.

I noticed that clients began to use “Behavioral Interviews” for more complex screening of applicant’s personalities.

So, what is a Behavioral Interview?

The aim of “Behavioral Interviews” is to reflect upon past behavior to achieve an insight into future potential. In this interview scenario, candidates are asked to describe particular experiences, situations, reactions and their reasoning behind their actions.

For example, instead of asking what would you do in a particular situation, the potential employer is likely to ask what did you do/how did you behave in a particular situation. In this way, the interviewer is trying to gauge how you may react in a real world situation, instead of what would you do in a hypothetical one.

To help my candidates to prepare for “Behavioral Interviews”, I decided to put together a few facts and questions that would allow them to prepare in slightly different ways.

We will now look at how to prepare for this kind of interview.

Think of six to eight examples of situations from your past experiences that demonstrate your skills and abilities. Make sure that at least half of your examples are positive (meeting deadlines, expectations and accomplishing goals). Try to take examples from various areas of your life, the rest can be scenarios that started negatively, but ended positively due to your due diligence.

During the interview, trying to describe examples in story form may help you to portray yourself more effectively. Listen to each question, and provide an example that provides an appropriate description of how you demonstrated the desired behavior.

Using the STAR approach for a “Behavioral Interview”

The STAR approach is:

  • S – Situation, background set the scene. Present a challenge and situation in which you found yourself. In an informative way, describe the situation. Try to concentrate only on the facts relevant to your story. Set the scene.
  • T – Task or Target, specifics of what is required, when, where, who? Describe what you had to achieve. Explain the tasks you were asked to perform. Identify the key objective. You can describe who else was involved, but make sure you are concentrating on describing yourself, not the rest of the team.
  • A – Action, what you did, skills used, behavior, characteristics. Present what you did, how you did it and why you did it that way. This is your time to sell yourself. Make sure to mention particular skills you used to complete this task. Try to capitalize on whether it can be applied and used in the position you are interviewing for. Explain how you put your skills to use.
  • R – Result – Outcome, conclusion. What was the outcome of your actions? Describe what was concluded? What was the result of you being involved in this task? Have you learned anything as a result? Were any follow-up steps required?