How to Prepare for the Four Most Common Behavioral Questions

February 6, 2020

- Krithika Kommana, Business Development

No matter what type of role you apply for and how qualified you are, interviewers want to get to know who you are as a person. A behavioral interview is an amazing opportunity for you to stand out amongst other candidates. 

Of course, filling out your profile on Showcase and answering our video questions is a great way to perfect your responses and prepare for these in-person interviews. But how do you know you’re answering them in the best way possible?  

Here are a few very common interview questions we’ve seen asked by employers and tips on how you can answer them to land your dream internship or job:   

“Tell me about yourself.” 

You can 100% expect to get asked the “elevator pitch” question in any interview you do. Keep in mind that this answer shouldn’t be more than 90 seconds and should roughly follow this format: 

  1. Start with a professional, high-level introduction that gives your academic background, and your overall professional interests/internship background. 
  2. Walk them through a few highlighted points/experiences from your resume that you think would make you stand out. 
  3. Talk about why you’re interviewing for this role and what interests you about it. 

Your answer to this question should NOT be a summary of your resume but should build off of it and give your own spin on why your experiences make you the best fit for the role you applied for. 

“Why do you want to work for our company?”

The key to answering this question well is to make it as personalized to the company as possible. Whether it’s because you really hit it off with someone who works at the company, or it’s because their products/objectives really excite you, your response should prove that you’ve done the research on the company and that you would enjoy working there.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing for this question: 

  1. Go through its website and think about the company’s mission statement and core values and why that resonates with you.
  2. Look at the projects they’re a part of or their products and what excites you about them. 
  3. Think about a really good connection you may have with someone at the company. 

“Tell me about a time when you ____?” 

When interviewers start their question with this, they want to hear about a specific instance in your experiences, academic or professional. Often times, you can expect interviewers to ask about a time when you worked on a team, had a disagreement with someone and tried to solve it, or failed at something (but it’s certainly not limited to this)! 

The key to answering questions like this adequately is to have at least 2-3 go-to scenarios in your head so you’re not flustered when the question is being asked in person. Keep your answer concise but be sure to use this following rough high-level format: 

  1. Give a brief background on the situation. Common situations we’ve heard are school projects, case competitions, assignments at previous internships/jobs etc. 
  2. Talk about your contribution to the situation and how you handled/resolved the situation. 
  3. Give a summary on what you learned from that experience and how you would handle a future situation like that if it were to come up.  

“What are your weaknesses?”  

It’s fairly easy for candidates to come up with strengths, but to come up with a way to phrase a weakness in a way that’s favorable to you can be challenging. But keep in mind that interviewers know you’re human - the key is to show that you’re willing to learn from your mistakes and work to better yourself. 

We’ve come up with a simple formula for you, because there is a strong chance of this question coming up in your interviews. 

  1. State your weakness. A few examples of weaknesses to use can be being too self critical, difficulty asking questions, being too detail-oriented, public speaking and more.
  2. Support your weakness with a specific experience (academic or professional) where this weakness came up. 
  3. Conclude with how you try to mitigate your weakness and improve upon it. 

Keep in mind that with any question, you want to be concise and to the point. Practice on your own, mock-interview with a friend to feel comfortable with answering these questions. Using Showcase and practicing on video first is a great way to help set yourself up for your dream job and career. Good luck!