If you've been on job interviews, you've found big differences in the interviewers' practices. Among them, you've probably encountered "behavioral" interviewing.
As a job hunter, your clue that you're entering behavioral interview territory will be a question that begins like this: "Tell me about a time when you ..."
The theory behind that kind of question — when you're asked to describe something you did in a certain situation — is that past behavior is a good predictor for future action.
If, for example, you're asked what you did to meet a deadline that was suddenly advanced, the interviewer is trying to get a concrete example of how you responded to a real-world situation.
At the more sophisticated end of the job interview spectrum, you're likely to get follow-ups to behavioral questions. You may be asked how you felt or thought about what you did.
The interviewer is trying to get a measure of what's popularly known as your emotional intelligence.
How well do you control your emotions? How empathetic are you? Do you understand how others feel? What is your self perception? What motivates your actions?
For example, if you respond to the behavioral question about meeting an early deadline by saying, "I stayed late and got the job done," that tells only part of what the interviewer really wants to know.
When you're asked how you felt about it, you'll reveal a lot more. Were you angry about working late? Did you blame your boss for not planning better? Did you jump in because it was a high-profile deal that would earn you points?
Employers are looking for workers who are good team players and manage stress well. They're looking for your confidence in interviews, but "I'm right/he's wrong" answers could sour your chances.
Emotional intelligence interviewers are trying to figure out how well you'd get along with others, how you think about yourself, and how you'd exercise influence.
It's a way to look for the "click" — the indication that you'd fit in and they'd like you.
SOURCE: The Kansas City Star. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (c) 2010.