How IT Professionals Can Ace Behavioral Interviewing Questions

by Anastasia C. Valentine on September 20, 2017



Picture this: You’re in an interview with an IT manager of a company that you’d love to work for and it’s going great!  You know your technology like the back of your hand, you’ve done your research on the potential employers’ website and you are ready to whiteboard at a moment’s notice.  Then all of a sudden, the IT manager asks “Tell me about a time that you worked effectively under pressure and what was the outcome?”  Blank, you’ve got nothing!   You can’t for the life of you think of one time you’ve been under pressure. Except now of course, and that’s not working for you! 

Behavioral interviewing questions have increased in popularity with hiring managers over the years and they’re not going away anytime soon. Interviewers are now focusing on what you have done in the past, not particularly what you say you’re going to do in the future.  The past gives managers good insight into how you’re going to perform and solve problems as an employee for them.  As an IT professional, you can talk tech all day long but these questions sometimes have a way of tripping you (and everyone) up.  Don’t fear, however, as there are some simple ways you can better prepare yourself to be ready for these questions in the future.

Before you start preparing, first familiarize yourself with some examples of behavioral interviewing questions that you might run into:

  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake and how you fixed it.
  • Give me an example of a time you set a goal and achieved it.
  • Describe a time when you disagreed with a co-worker or boss and how you worked it out.
  • Share an example of how you’ve worked in a team.
  • Has your manager ever made a decision you didn’t agree with?  If so, how did you handle it with your manager?
  • Describe a situation in which you were able to convince someone to see things your way.

If answered correctly, these questions could give you a great opportunity to showcase your experience and skills to the interviewer.  However if not well prepared, you won’t be able to generate a good answer and well…crash and burn.

In order to start preparing for these questions, you need to first get out your resume.  For each skill or duty you describe having performed, think about the different situations you encountered.  They could be problems, goals, triumphs, anything that sticks out to you as something important or noteworthy.  As you go through these, think about the issue, your response and the outcome of the situation.

After you’ve identified these situations from your past experiences, you need to take a look at the job description for which you are applying.  Can you foresee using any of the situations you identified from your resume being useful in this job? The hiring manager you are interviewing with will be looking for any past experiences you have encountered that will help you problem solve and bring solutions to the new position.  After all, Dr. Katharine Hansen ascertains that behavioral interviewing is said to be 55 percent predictive of future on-the-job behavior, while traditional interviewing is only 10 percent predictive. You need to prove to the interviewer that you have the experience necessary to succeed in the job you are after.  Being able to bridge the connection for them in the interview will only increase your chances of landing the job.

Lastly, practice answering some of the questions outlined above or do research on additional behavioral interviewing questions.  These specific questions might not be asked, but you’ll at least have the opportunity to practice discussing some of your accomplishments.  Also, you might be able to use some of the behavioral experiences you’ve brainstormed in ways you didn’t initially identify.  For example, one of the biggest challenges you’ve overcome could have also been a goal you set and achieved.

The key to any successful interview is preparedness.  You know to always do your research on the company, review the job description and have your greatest strengths and weaknesses in your back pocket.  Becoming familiar with different behavioral questions is a task you should add to your interviewing “to-do” list.  After spending some time preparing for these types of questions, you’ll never again draw a blank on a behavioral questions.  Instead, you’ll be able to impress your interviewer with your vast experience, skills and ultimately, land the job.

By: Anastasia Valentine