Two men shaking handsDuring the interview process employers are not only looking at the skills and talents you'll bring to a position, but how you'll use them on a daily basis. They do this by asking behavioral interview questions. Learn how to pick the best stories to highlight your skills and translate your qualifications as clearly as possible.

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Behavioral Interview Questions: What Are They?

Mar 25, 2021

Two men shaking handsDuring the interview process, employers are not only looking at the skills and talents you'll bring to a position, but how you'll use them on a daily basis. They do this by asking behavioral interview questions — stories about different projects and issues that may mirror an average workday in the position you are applying for.

By asking these questions, employers want specific details about how you accomplished a goal or solved a problem. They use your stories to determine whether you would be a good fit for their organization. You can use your experience from a previous job, a volunteer project, an internship or a group project in school.

Preparing for this type of question can take some time; but it also gives you the opportunity to identify the strengths you'll want to highlight during the interview. In future posts, we will address several of these types of questions and offer suggestions about how to answer them. Today, we're talking about how you can prepare to handle behavioral questions in general.

Analyze the Job Description

Review the job description to identify what specific work or soft skills the employer mentions. Often, you'll see attributes and skills such as communication, team player, ability to focus, efficiency, timeliness, flexibility, attention to detail, creativity and responsibility. Which ones are emphasized in the job description?

List Your Past Experiences

Once you decide which attributes or skills are most relevant to the job description, think about what experiences you've had that would address them. Reflect on your successes; how you achieved them and why they were significant. If you faced some challenges, how did you handle them? If you have some past performance evaluations, look at those to refresh your memory.

Create Some Examples

Anecdotes or stories are an excellent way to make your points. A good rule of thumb is to think of examples as you prepare for the interview and apply the STAR method to answer these types of questions:

  • Situation: Offer some background on the task or challenge that you'll be addressing
  • Task: Define your role and responsibilities for the particular situation
  • Action: Explain what steps you took or ideas you offered to help solve the problem
  • Result: Share how the situation was resolved, highlighting how your actions helped

Enlist Some Help

A Ticket to Work service provider that offers interview preparation help may be an ideal resource to help you address STAR questions. They may be able to help you brainstorm some situations to discuss with a potential employer or hold a mock interview to help you practice your responses. That way, you'll head into an interview with confidence.

About Ticket to Work

There's a lot to consider when job searching, and it can be tough trying to do everything on your own. Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) Program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) and want to work. The Ticket Program is free and voluntary. The Ticket Program connects you with free employment services to help you decide if working is right for you, prepare for work, find a job or maintain success while you are working.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket Program, visit choosework.ssa.gov or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket Program Find Help tool.

Learn more

To learn more about the Ticket Program, visit choosework.ssa.gov or call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket Program Find Help tool.

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If you're interested in receiving text messages from the Ticket Program, please text TICKET to 474747. Standard messaging rates may apply. We'll send updates from our blog, identify steps on the path to employment and more. We hope you'll find this new way to stay in touch helpful. You can opt out at any time.

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