Three Tips for Answering Behavioral Interview Questions

Black Sorority member is asked a series of behavioral interview questions during second round job interview.There is one type of interview question that trips up almost every job seeker—the behavioral question. Every day I interview unsuspecting job seekers who mostly get stomped when I get into the behavioral section. And folks think they’re slick. They respond with generic answers which rarely goes over well, if ever. Ironically, behavioral interview questions are easier to answer than job seekers think.

Greek life is fertile ground to prepare for behavioral-based interviews. Think about it. As Greeks, we are held accountable for our chapters complying with national standards and producing results while managing folks who constantly stay in their feelings about having letters. There are studies and research that point to how Greek life builds marketable career skills. In the book “African American Men in College”, for example, a study was quoted as stating:

African-American undergraduates—43 percent of whom held membership in black fraternities—identified time management, the ability to work collaboratively with people from different backgrounds, persuasion and negotiation tactics, multi-tasking and delegating, and improved communication skills as some of the competencies they acquired through their membership in student organizations.

By maximizing your Greek life opportunities, you could very well be prepared to reply to behavioral interview questions if you remember these three tips:

1. Give yourself something to talk about.

Being a “t-shirt wearer” gets you no respect, especially outside of Greek life. Dig in! Do things that cater to your talents and set goals. A great way to start is to join a committee. Also, come up with goal-oriented ideas to pitch to the chapter using the proper fraternity or sorority protocols. Sharpen your people skills by building relationships among your chapter members.

If you are in a small chapter that demands the members step into executive leadership immediately, seek guidance so that, in an interview, you can tell the story of a time that you were proactive about building your leadership skills to get results. The best results to mention in your interview answers are increased membership and revenue as well as service hours.

2. Document it!

People often claim to not have answers to behavioral questions because they simply don’t remember things they did to contribute to team successes. That is why it is important to document your success on your résumé. Other ways to document stories that can be useful in answering behavioral interview questions are blogging, personal journaling, or social media posts. Wherever you do it, make sure you have something that you can study before walking into an interview.

3. Practice telling your stories.

One thing that slightly annoys me is when I ask a candidate a behavioral question and the response, “I do that all the time.” Okay, so it should be easy to tell me a story (but remember that folks are trying to be slick). It may seem silly but practice telling one-minute stories about your accomplishments.

Here’s the good news—you’re Greek! Surely, you have a story about an idea that helped a committee successfully execute an event. Did you come up with a move that helped your step team place or win a show (to show creativity and team work)? You’ve got to have a story about a time you balanced class work, a job, and student activities to achieve success in all three areas. Have you ever taken the initiative to build relationships among your chapter members? Did that result in better chapter performance? Trust me, you have the answers we recruiters and hiring managers are looking for.

Here’s an important final thought. If you want to ace behavioral interview questions, get comfortable with the fact that they are coming regardless of the type of interview. Don’t look at behavioral questions as “gotcha” questions. Look at them as opportunities to illustrate how you accomplish goals.

Are you curious about the types of questions you are likely to face? Here are some outstanding examples.

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