Any thoughtful hiring manager will want to assess your character traits, attitudes and interpersonal style. He or she will look for clues about your work habits, how you see yourself in relationship to others, how you will perform and how well you will fit into the company's culture. These things aren't generally discernable from a résumé or LinkedIn profile. Nor can they be asked about directly. But, often behavioral questions will comprise a significant portion of an interview and your answers will reveal a great deal.
These kinds of questions typically begin with something like, "Tell me about a time when…" or "What would you do if…" It is virtually impossible to rehearse for every one that might be asked. Your spontaneous answer is what your interviewer will find most valuable in making his or her assessment of you.
You can, however, prepare to deal with these kinds of questions by thinking about the qualities that someone would likely possess to be successful at the role for which you are applying. Then come into your interview with stories you can tell which demonstrate these traits. Here are five example qualities that employers value, and sample questions you might be asked during the interview to determine if you have these traits.
1. Empathy. Employers not only want you to do the job, but to care about it and the people with whom you will interact.
2. Mentoring inclination and ability. Interviewers want to predict your interest in reaching out to mentor others, and how you will go about elevating their knowledge and skills.
3. Interpersonal skills. Employers want to hire people who can play well with others in the "corporate sandbox." Interviewers will be interested to learn how you deal with personality conflicts and your own role in them.
4. Self-direction and initiative. Employers seek people who will take upon themselves more than what is actually expected or required. To find out if you have that kind of drive they might ask:
5. Flexibility and adaptability. In many companies, change is often the only constant. Policies, priorities and procedures need to anticipate and respond to internal and external conditions. Employers seek people who can adjust quickly. To find out your ability to adapt, you might be asked:
These questions have no single "right" answer, but they do allow an interviewer to see the way your mind works. Moreover, your answers reveal your ability to be introspective, maintain self-control and deal with difficult situations.
Take the time to understand the human qualities employers seek and which are intrinsic to your character. Then you will be able to draw stories from the well of your experience that demonstrate these qualities in your interview, and advance your chances of being hired.
Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help mid-career job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.