Behavioral interviewing: First encounters

Way back in 1999, Tooling Up columnist David Jensen was among the first career writers (certainly the first in the science career space) to put forward a set of best practices for dealing with behavioral interviews—interviewers in which the intent of the interviewer is to learn not merely the facts about you but also about situations you’ve encountered in the past and how you dealt with them. The idea is to learn how you are likely to deal with similar situations in the future. At the time this story was published, behavioral interviews were still fairly new, at least in the world of scientific employment.

David’s bottom line? Don’t fake it. Rather, prepare for behavioral interviews by subjecting your work history to careful scrutiny. Think hard about how you’ve dealt with situations and people in your past—especially the difficult ones. Analyze the good and bad aspects, and be prepared to talk about them. You want to come across as genuine—you want to be genuine—but also to present yourself and your actions in a positive light. You should, of course, read the whole column.

Don’t fake it.

Also take a look at these Science Careers resources related to behavioral interviewing:

“Scrutinizing Your Personality,” by Sharon Ann Holgate An awareness of the range of interview situations you may encounter can help turn a daunting part of the selection procedure into something more manageable.

“Tooling Up: Human Resources Interviews,” by David Jensen You may be comfortable talking with scientists, but interviews with Human Resources are a different beast.

“Tooling Up: Conducting an Authentic Job Search,” by David Jensen It is entirely possible, and in many ways preferable, to develop a job-seeking style that reflects your core values and allows you to be authentic.

“Tooling Up: Views on an Interview, Part 1,” by David Jensen On interview day at ABC Technologies, Scott Jackson’s experiences range from mundane to terrifying.

“Tooling Up: The Walking, Talking Interviewing Machine,” by David Jensen As soon as you start to come across as phony or underprepared, you’re off the short list.

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