Career Stories: How to Ace Any Behavioral Interview
Throughout your life, you will be asked to talk about yourself countless times: on first dates, at family gatherings, in application essays, and more. Likewise, throughout your professional career, and especially during behavioral interviews, you will need to put your best foot forward and enable the interviewer to understand who you are, what skills you bring to the table, and what you value. Stories are a great way to accomplish this in an engaging way.
A behavioral interview is an opportunity to bring your resume to life by telling compelling stories about yourself, your work and life experiences. If the stories demonstrate that you have the skills and attributes necessary for the role, companies will have a hard time turning you away.
Preparation is Key
AlphaSights provides a roadmap of the attributes we look for on our career site with additional role-specific skills listed within each position description. We, and other employers, do this to help you prepare for the interview as thoroughly as possible.
You should have at least five go-to stories prepared for interviews. You won’t need to cram in every one, but you should brainstorm more stories than you think you will need in order to give yourself options. A helpful framework for thinking through your stories is the PARLA model:
Problem - What was the problem or situation that you encountered?
Approach - What was your approach to the situation, or to solving the problem? What actions did you take?
Result - What was the result or outcome of your approach? Give examples whenever possible.
Learn - What did you learn from the experience?
Application - When have you applied the learnings in another situation? If you haven’t had an opportunity to apply the learnings yet, how would you apply them to the role you’re interviewing for?
If you’re struggling to generate ideas for stories, imagine the prompts you will encounter in a behavioral interview, and then come up with relevant personal experiences. Here are some examples:
· A time when you learned from a mistake you made
· A time when you worked with a difficult person, and how you made the relationship work
· A time when you went the extra mile, and how it demonstrates your work ethic
During the Interview
It’s important to stay calm, confident, and conversational throughout the interview. When the interviewer poses a question, think about what skill they are trying to assess for, and then tell your most applicable story. You don’t need to stick rigidly to the story as you rehearsed it - be flexible, and shift your emphasis based on the exact question.
Finally, remember the basics: if you come into the interview having done your research about what the organization does, the day-to-day responsibilities of the role, and how the role fits into your career trajectory, your preparation and stories will set you up for success.
Chris Wrobel joined AlphaSights in January of 2015 and currently serves as the Vice President of Professional Development.