How to “Ace” the Behavioral Interview

Question Mark Key Shows Doubt And Help

Many people panic before and during job interviews for a number of reasons. The two most common in my experience are: (1) Not being prepared by not knowing their résumé backwards and forwards; and (2) taking an “employee” attitude toward the hiring process. First, the résumé is the foundation of the script you use for nearly every question posed to you during an interview. You should be able to speak at length to any single bullet list item on your résumé. Second, an employee attitude is the wrong one to walk into an interview with; the hiring manager has a need for a problem solver, and YOU need to assume the attitude that YOU are that problem solver who bears the expertise and the accomplishment-focused résumé to back that up.

The figure below illustrates the STAR structure of behavioral interview questioning along with suggested response approaches. behavioral-questions There is no “right” or “wrong” response to any behavioral interview question; only different approaches to a particular situation. Your response is likely the right response for the situation in which you were involved at that time. The STAR structure is the very same approach you would take if you were to write-up a case history (of which at least one case history should be in your portfolio of documents).

Hiring managers and interviewers are looking for evidence of articulate vocabulary (not a lot of uh’s, umm’s, and you know’s or other meaningless vocalizations), evidence of critical thinking ability, and evidence of problem-solving skills. The “think-aloud protocol” is another type of behavioral interview technique whereby candidates verbalize their thinking process while attempting some problem-solving exercise.

Be prepared ahead of time with one or two scenarios you can speak at length to using the STAR structure in response to any behavioral interview question –  without the meaningless vocalizations.

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My name is  Donn LeVie Jr. and I’m a former hiring manager for Fortune 500 companies (Phillips Petroleum, Motorola, Intel Corporation, and others) and have worked in the federal government (NOAA) and in academia as an adjunct faculty lecturer in the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for the University of Houston (Downtown Campus). I am the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), Runner-Up of the 2016 International Book Award for Business: Careers, and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers).  

I lead career strategy seminars (for job seekers and for hiring managers wanting to know how to spot talent) at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations. I also offer a Career Engagement Evaluation subscription program to associations as a member benefit.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? My 2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact me directly at for more information or use the Contact page on this blog

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One thought on “How to “Ace” the Behavioral Interview

  1. […] How to “Ace” the Behavioral Interview […]

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