Has your mind ever gone blank during a job interview? That's interview brain freeze, and it's horrifying. Your confidence sags and the interview goes from bad to worse. As a job-search career coach, this is the most frequent interview dilemma I hear about from my clients. Typically, brain freeze occurs when behavioral or situational interview questions are asked. With the right preparation you can learn to think faster and improve your interview performance.
First of all, it's important to understand what a behavioral or situational interview question is. It is any question that start with:
Tell me a time when ...
Give an example of ...
Describe a situation when ...
Employers ask these types of questions with the assumption that past behavior indicates future performance. These questions reveal a lot about a candidate, including a candidates ability to think fast on their feet. Given that interviews are inherently stressful, many job seekers find it extremely difficult to think fast during interviews. Here are four steps that will help you prepare for any interview question.
1.Take inventory of your accomplishments.
This requires more than a cursory mental note of the good stuff you've done in the past year. Take a systematic approach by asking yourself what challenges you've faced in each of your positions over the past five or more years. Try asking yourself
What processes have I improved?
How have I made work easier for others?
What did I do to save my company money?
When did I find a solution to a departmental problem. How did I save time?
When did I go beyond the call of duty to solve a customer problem?
Write out your answers to these questions. Quantitative information is always helpful. Include dollars saved, hours cut, percentage increased etc.
2.Study the job description.
With your list of accomplishments in hand you are ready to turn your attention to the job description. Study the requirements to determine the all possible challenges involved with the job. It helps to look at other similar job descriptions that may include more requirement details. Additionally, ask others who hold similar positions what their greatest challenges of the job are. Write out your list of anticipated challenges.
3.Create a list behavioral questions.
Turn your list of challenges of the position into a list of questions that start with:
Tell me a time when you ...
Describe a situation when ...
Have you ever had to ...
Your list will look something like:
Explain how you cut costs from your annual budget.
Describe a situation when you had to fire a friend.
How would you go about repairing a relationship with a disgruntled client?
4.Use your list of accomplishments to answer your behavioral questions.
Ask a friend to help you role play your interview answers. You should feel very comfortable communicating your success stories. The more time you practice actually talking about your accomplishments the faster you'll be able to recall your stories in your next interview.
With interview performance more important than ever before it pays to prepare, prepare, prepare. There is no such thing as over preparation when it comes to interviews. Follow this easy method of interview preparation to gain confidence and skill for your next interview. The better you interview the faster you'll be at your new job.