Sunday, January 30, 2011

Five Tips for Navigating the Behavioral Interview

If you are wondering what MBA Student Activities are keeping the first-year MBA students at most Top Ranked MBA Colleges busy around this time of the year - think interviews! Scores of prospective students go through interviews during the MBA Admission cycle, but right after a grueling first semester, they face another challenge - the search for internships.

Here are some tips that could be useful for anyone facing behavioral interviews. If you want to explore tips for case interviews, see my earlier blog post.

Small Talk: The start of the interview is extremely important since it will set the tone for the rest of the interaction. Do not hesitate to break the ice, and get the conversation started. Short, curt responses must be avoided and instead try to look for areas of common ground. Establishing rapport early in the interview will make the process seem more like a friendly discussion that a stressful interrogation.

Tailor your Stories: It is extremely important that you read the job description carefully and have a clear idea of what skills are required to perform the required tasks. Further, remember that apart from the skills mentioned in the job description, employers often look for qualities like leadership, teamwork, communication skills, and willingness to perform beyond expectations. Your stories should be interesting and easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or getting lost in the details to ensure that the interviewer can follow along easily. Follow a structured approach to highlight your qualities: briefly state the context, the action you took and the outcome. Demonstrate your fit with the requirements for the job as well as the culture of the company.

Questions at the End: Ensure that you thoroughly research the company. If the interviewer opens it up for questions at the end, this is your chance to demonstrate your curiosity. A great way to structure your question is to describe the motivation behind your question before you ask it. For instance, referring to an article you read or perhaps an area of interest. Ask a question that the interviewer is in a position to answer and does not make him or her uncomfortable. Avoid asking for information you can easily find on their website.

Ask for the Job Gracefully: Closing the interview well is as important as the opening. Carefully think about the last impression you would want to leave the interviewer with. Succinctly restate what you bring to the table and what attracts you most about the company. Lastly, convey you interest in the job and thank the interviewer for considering you.

Do not forget the Thank You: It is easy to forget to ask for the interviewer’s contact information, for instance a business card or e-mail address, at the end of the interview. Pick at least one memorable moment from the interview especially one where you learned something new. This is not the time to take unnecessary risks. Write a separate and different note to each interviewer and recruiter. Demonstrate your understanding of good business etiquette.

Above all, it is important that you be yourself. Be natural! This can be a difficult thing to do in a stressful interview situation. Being calm under pressure will enable you to perform at your highest level. Before you walk into the interview room, just take a deep breath, know that you have prepared to the best of your ability and feel ready to explore the experience!

Good luck! Please feel free to share any additional tips you may have, based on your interview experiences, in the comments section below.


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