Behavioral descriptive interviews are used by companies to evaluate your past performance and the decisions you would make today in different scenarios in order to predict how you may respond to future situations. According to the Asper School of Business, behavioral descriptive interview questions help employers objectively learn more about your job performance. These questions also help determine if you are a good match for a company. The best way to answer behavioral descriptive interview questions is to prepare for them in advance.

Researching the Company

If you know pertinent information about the company offering you an interview, you can prepare your interview answers in a way that conveys that you and company have similar values and goals. Learn more about the position for which you are interviewing, the history of the company and the issues your prospective department may face. It is also a good idea to learn more about the company’s target customer and the products or services sold so you can prepare a strategy for your interview, gather together information about yourself that you want to highlight, and think of questions you may want to ask the hiring manager. For example, if a hiring manager asks you provide an example about a time you developed and maintained productive relations with others, even though there were differing points of view, you could talk about a positive experience with past coworkers or clients that may be similar to an experience you may face in the position for which you are applying. Additionally, by conducting research about the company and the position for which you applied, you can develop a list of questions the hiring manager could ask you so you can answer them with confidence.

Type of Questions

Behavioral descriptive interview questions evaluate how well you plan and organize, solve problems, address stress and communicate. For example, a hiring manager may ask you to talk about a challenge you faced in the past and how you found a solution. Alternatively, she may ask how you react when criticized, or you may have to describe how you would handle a sudden change in your work schedule or how you have dealt with past coworkers who were difficult. An April 2011 article in Fortune magazine stated that hiring managers can ask odd questions, such as what superhero you would most like to be and why, to examine your thought process. When preparing for an interview that has behavioral descriptive questions, make a list of your top three strengths, weaknesses, greatest vocational achievements, lessons learned while on the job and times when a project did not go as planned. For each situation, recall your involvement, the outcome and how you learned from the event. Preparing this information before an interview can help you answer questions thoughtfully without needing to take the time to remember past experiences.

Knowing Your Job Competencies

Many behavioral descriptive interview questions will have you think about past or current job competencies you learned or practiced. Therefore, it is to your advantage to be able to know your job competencies without hesitation. Competencies related to work include your ability to adapt, your leadership skills and your ability to influence others. Your ability to adapt can relate to problem-solving skills, conflict management, empathy, the ability to control a difficult situation and assertiveness. Competencies that relate to your leadership skills include the ability to conduct objective research, as well as your motivation, planning skills, organizational skills, negotiating skills and integrity. Competencies related to the ability to influence others include your abilities to persuade others, take risks, work with others, work under stressful conditions, communicate verbally and in writing, execute effective presentations and show resilience.

Answering Behavioral Descriptive Interview Questions

The Asper School of Business suggests you use the SOAR (situation, opportunity or obstacle, action, result) method to answer behavioral descriptive interview questions. After a hiring manager asks you a question, describe a relevant situation and the opportunities presented or the obstacles you faced. Then talk about what you did to overcome the problem or achieve the goal, the skills you used and how others reacted. Finally, discuss how your efforts made an impact on the situation, others involved and the company.