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Know What to Say on a Job Interview

Behavioral Interviews

Below are examples of how a job applicant (technical writer) might answer a series of secondary behavioral interview questions, based on an initial question.

Behavioral Interview Questions with Answers

The answers to the behavioral interview questions below, follow the Situation + Action = Outcome "formula" mentioned on the previous page.

Q. Was there ever a time that you were challenged or put under pressure?
A. Gosh, many times!

Q. Can you give me an example?
A. Sure; in fact, I recently had to meet a very tight project deadline for an important customer. Would you like for me to go on?

Q. Yes, please do. What were the circumstances?
A. Well, one of our top customers wanted our engineering department to design and implement complex product modifications in only a month, including matching changes to the standard user manual.

It was my job to customize the user manual, by working with our tech support group and the engineer who was to make the modifications. During our first project meeting, I recommended that I write an addendum to the user manual, which would be quicker than editing the entire manual. The project team and our customer thought it was a good idea; so, that's what I did.

Q. Good recommendation. When did you feel pressured?
A. To be honest, I felt pressured right off the bat!

Q. Thanks for your honesty. Why did you feel pressured?
A. I felt pressured because I knew that the deadline was tight, even for an addendum, and that I'd have to write it on the fly to make the deadline. I also knew that the customer was of major importance to our business. In other words, no matter how tight it was, I had to make the deadline, no ifs, ands or buts.

Q. Well, I can certainly understand why you felt pressured. How did you cope?
A. I jogged a lot after work hours to relieve stress! But, I also turned the pressure into challenge; a tough challenge makes me determined, and determination gives me the energy to meet the challenge.

Q. Can you give me an example, to help me better understand what you mean?
A. Sure; it's like when I push myself to jog a little further than I ever have before. I'm determined to get more exercise, which, in turn, gives me the energy to jog a little further. A similar thing happened on the project: It was a tough challenge to make the deadline, and that gave me the determination and energy to do it.

Q. Good analogy. How did you go about accomplishing the project?
A. To save time, I started with the same document template that I had initially created for the standard manual. It took only a few tweaks to modify it for an addendum. Then I worked extra hours in my office or took my laptop home with me after hours and worked on it there.

Q. What was the outcome?
A. I made the deadline! So did the rest of the project team. Our customer was so pleased with the addendum, that my manager gave me an out-of-cycle promotion. Our CEO was so pleased that we made our customer happy, that he took the whole project team out to dinner at an expensive restaurant, where he presented Gold Achievement Awards to all of us.

Perhaps such behavioral interview questions and answers are a tad too "by-the-book" and the outcome would occur only in a perfect world; but, you get the idea.

For a bit more about behavioral interviews, see Behavioral Interview in the Interview Center. For behavioral interview tips and sample questions from other sources on the Web, click the relevant links in Interview Tips, Techniques and Types. Good luck with your next behavioral interview!

Behavioral Interviews
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