Even if you’re the right candidate for the right job, if you don’t have your story together in your interview, the job’s going to the other guy.
In fact, I’ve sat through too many panel interviews over the years with my heart breaking because I knew the RIGHT guy was telling the WRONG story…or the RIGHT story in the wrong way.
And the “committee” chose the bozo instead.
It’s not just what you’ve done, but how you tell it that matters in a behavior-based interview. With a little preparation, you can avoid the common mistakes that prevent you from bringing all your Winning Well wisdom to the scene.
Common Mistakes in a Behavior-Based Interview
In a Behavioral Based Interview, candidates are asked to describe a situation, share what happened, and communicate the results. In other words, to share a story.
Behavior-based questions work well because they require candidates to draw on real experiences and communicate stories in an articulate way.
They can also backfire when great candidates bomb the interview because of lack of preparation.
Avoid These Interviewing Mistakes
- Picking the wrong story. (Usually, the first one that comes to mind.)
- Selecting a story with a bad ending (backing yourself into a corner, and wishing you told another story.)
- Getting carried away in your story-telling, sharing too many details and going in circles.
- Leaving out the detail, leaving too much to the imagination.
- Forgetting to share the point of your story.
- Sharing a story in which you did not have a central role (or in other words, sharing someone else’s success.)
- Over-using the word “I” when you are describing an effort you led (remember to include the team.)
- Continuing to use the same story with a different twist, leaving your interviewer to conclude you’ve only got one example of success.
How to Prepare for Success
- Make a list of the competencies or skills most required for the job.
- Go back through your work experiences, and find the best examples (stories) that showcase your skills in these areas. If you’re a spreadsheet guy or gal, go for it.
- Develop a plan for which stories you plan to share.
- Build out your stories to include brief context, specific actions, and results.
- Practice telling them to a mentor or friend.
But wait–don’t wait until you need a job. Start now.
Some of the best interviewers (and leaders I know) keep journals of their best stories along the way to use when they need them–in interviews, mentoring, heck, who knows, maybe even a keynote someday. Capture the details while the story is fresh so it will be easier to recall when the time is right.