How can an employer understand which candidate best fit behavioral skills that are needed in the person they hire?
Behavioral Interviewing is an effective style of interviewing that is becoming very popular in many companies, based on the theory that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation.
In a Traditional Interview, you will be asked a series of questions which typically have straight forward answers like “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” or “What major challenges and problems did you face? How did you handle them?” or “Describe a typical work week.”
(To get an overview of these questions and an advice on how to answer them: Interview Questions and Answers)
In a Behavioral Interview, an employer has decided what skills are needed in the person they hire and will ask questions to find out if the candidate has those skills. Instead of asking how you would behave, they will ask how you did behave. The interviewer will want to know how you handled a situation, instead of what you might do in the future.
(To get an overview of these questions: Complete List of Behavioral Interview Questions)
There are lot of guides to answer these questions, but the truth is that there so many questions and you cannot prepare an answer for any of those.
Furthermore, there are no right or wrong answers. It everything depends on the real situations you handled and your accomplishments. If you can demonstrate through examples (preferably recent ones) that you’ve succeeded in certain areas of interest, you’ll likely be considered a strong candidate for the position.
The only valuable tip I feel to suggest, is to answer to those questions, using the “STAR Method”, where STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result.
Situation: Open with a brief description of the Situation and context of the story (who, what, where, when, how).
Task: Explain the Task you had to complete highlighting any specific challenges or constraint (eg deadlines, costs, other issues).
Action: Describe the specific Actions that you took to complete the task. These should highlight desirable traits without needing to state them (initiative, intelligence, dedication, leadership, understanding, etc.)
Result: Close with the result of your efforts. Include figures to quantify the result if possible.
And if you are a student without working experience, best solution to have good answer at your first interviews, is to gain experience during university years, for example taking part in some international student network (e.g. AIESEC, AEGEE, EESTEC, EESTIEM, etc) in order to test your skills in a volunteering and friendly environment and empower yourself, getting useful experience for your future.