Each week, TopResume’s career advice expert, Amanda Augustine, answers user questions on Quora like the one below. We’ll be republishing those answers here. A certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW), Amanda has been helping professionals improve their careers for over 10 years. Have a question for Amanda? Submit it here.

Q: How can I prepare for a behavioral interview?

In a behavioral job interview, the interviewer asks questions about your work history to figure out if you have the skills necessary to do the job well. Behavioral-based interview questions aim to shed light on how you handled a variety of work situations in the past. The idea behind this interview approach is that your previous behavior reflects how you’ll likely handle similar situations in the future. When a recruiter or hiring manager asks a behavioral interview question, they’re also looking for insights into your abilities and personality.

I recently answered a question similar to this one on Quora, where I basically broke down the STAR method, an approach I highly recommend using when formulating your responses to behavioral-based interview questions. You can view the answer in detail here: “How do I pass a behavioral interview?

In short, when you’re preparing for a behavioral interview, review the job description carefully to get a better sense of the main requirements. Behavioral interview questions are set up to give you, the job candidate, the opportunity to explain how you’ve used the skills listed on your resume to contribute to the company. In other words, use this opportunity to provide proof of your skills and explain your approach to handling certain matters.

I recommend using the STAR method as a framework for handling this type of interview question. The approach is fairly simple:

  • Describe a Situation you faced or a Task you had to complete

  • Explain what Actions you took to resolve the issue or get the job done

  • Then, discuss the Results of your actions.

Take a closer look at the job description and make a short list of the required skills to perform the job. Then, brainstorm some stories using the STAR method that demonstrate how you’ve leveraged those skills or handled similar situations in the past.

Don’t memorize your response. Instead, jot down a few words for each bullet to jog your memory so your response doesn't sound rehearsed.

Click on the following link for more career advice on how to nail a behavioral interview.

Read Amanda Augustine's answer to "How can I prepare for a behavioral interview?" on Quora.

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