Behavioral job interview questions appear on nearly every hiring manager’s list. Unlike traditional job interview questions, behavioral questions ask you to recount a specific action or approach you used in the past in response to a specific problem or situation. Hiring managers hypothesize that by asking you what you have already done, they gain greater insight into how you will act in the future.

For job candidates, the most difficult part of answering a behavioral interview question is summarizing their past work in a way that tells a meaningful and memorable story.

Here’s how to practice answering behavioral job interview questions:

Collect your past accomplishments (and failures).

Make a list of the most significant accomplishments you have achieved in your career to date. Consider not only achievements you were lauded for, but also those that went unnoticed yet were essential to the smooth functioning of your workplace or the completion of a larger project.

Also, list your three biggest failures, mistakes or setbacks. For each of these, include what you learned. If you encountered the same situation again, whether a different approach helped you avoid disaster a second time.

Get your answers up to PAR.

Circle your three most significant or meaningful accomplishments and the failure to which you responded most constructively. Then, for each of these four items:

  • Write one sentence stating the Problem. (“We realized we had only four days to meet a deadline we thought wouldn’t come for several weeks.”)
  • Write one sentence stating the Action you took in response. (“I agreed to put in overtime on three of those four days, and I convinced everyone else to do so as well.”)
  • Write one to two sentences stating the Result. (“We managed to complete the project with two hours to spare before the deadline. We got a great deal of praise, but I started putting ‘pre-deadlines’ a month ahead of time into my calendar so I wouldn’t be caught in a similar crunch again.”)

For your biggest mistake, include a sentence about what you would do differently next time—or if there was a “next time,” mention how you addressed the problem differently and what happened.

Practice until you can tell these stories smoothly.

Use your 3-4 sentence PAR summaries to practice telling these stories as you’ve written them. For each, pay attention to the moments where you mention certain strengths. For instance, in the examples above, our interviewee can emphasize the interpersonal skills required to convince other team members to put in overtime, plus the improved organization that comes with better calendar management.

At FootBridge Energy Services, our recruiters connect qualified professionals to some of the best jobs in the oil and gas industries. To learn more, contact us today.