Modern companies use behavioral interviewing–they ask you to give them an example of a single, specific time that you exhibited a skill or behavior they are looking for (a one-time story that shows you have the desired skill). This exercise will prepare you for three of the common questions used in behavioral interviewing by preparing a story for each.
Find an ad for a job you’d like to get after you graduate (an entry-level job in the field you are currently studying). The ad may come from a newspaper, an internal company posting, or an on-line data base or website. An email from a company describing what they’re looking for would qualify also. Make sure the ad has at least as much depth as the example immediately below. In other words, make sure it describes what the employer is looking for in detail.
- Choose a skill that the job ad lists as required. Type out a story/example showing that you have that skill. It must be a story, one thing that happened one time. Take a look at the example below so you’re sure. Make sure it starts and ends with a clear point like the example in the preceding explanation. Before the paragraph, type the quote from that job ad that the paragraph responds to just as the following example does.
- Choose a different key word or phrase and repeat number one above, except that make sure this story explains something important that you achieved in the last several years.
- Type out a story/example that answers the questions, “Have you ever had a failure at work? If so, how did you handle it?” Make sure it starts and ends with a clear point like the example that follows.
Highlight the words or phrases in the job ad that you’ll be responding to.
Oral-Interpersonal Communications T/R 1-225
April 23, 2014
Must have reliable vehicle, excellent communication skills, three years experience, the ability to work effectively both independently and with others, clean driving and credit record, demonstrated advanced skills in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, and no felony convictions.
Send resume and cover letter to:
Renitz Tax & Accounting
Tax Preparation Service
Address: 139 W Center St, Whitewater, WI 53190
Quote from ad: (“excellent communication skills”)
I have excellent communication skills. One evening, I had a couple dining at the restaurant where I work. The woman had many food allergies, and was very clear on what she could and couldn’t have. She asked questions about what ingredients were in certain dishes, if certain things contained wheat, or MSG; there were many things she had to watch out for. Being employed there for twelve years, it was simple for me to answer these questions for her and if there was something I was unsure of, I asked the cooks to be certain. When placing the order with the cooks, I had to specify and relay exactly what the woman had told me about her allergies and what she had to stay away from. Without the communication among the customer, me, and the cooks, this woman could have ended up extremely sick.
Quote from ad: (“ability to work effectively both independently and with others”)
I have the ability to work effectively both independently and with others. I was recently chosen to be an Ambassador/Mentor for the upcoming school year. I have been on Blackhawk’s campus for two years now and hadn’t got involved with anything yet. I had been receiving emails frequently and finally decided to fill out the application for the position. I was called back almost immediately, interviewed and offered a position. I worked independently to apply and with my interviewer to establish my suitability for the work. I can’t wait until next year to see where the year will take me and what new doors this position may open up for me. I look forward to working with new students and being of any assistance I can.
Quote from ad: (“demonstrated advanced skills in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook”)
I learned that I must constantly keep my skills up to date. I was called for an interview, when I soon realized that I didn’t have the Office knowledge I needed to even begin. I could use Microsoft Word, but beyond that I was clueless. I was denied the job, and I realized I needed to get up-to-date on my Office Programs and legal databases. I have now taken an Information Technology class (Outlook), Business Spreadsheets (Excel), and have taken Written Communications and I am currently in Oral Communications which uses Microsoft Word and PowerPoint regularly. After taking these classes, I now possess the skills that before prevented me from getting the job.
- Each story begins with a clear point.
- Each point supported by specific, one-time stories that persuade reader that applicant possesses skill asked for in job ad
- Sentence flow (clear, concise, correct).
- Each point addresses a skill asked for in the ad, and the add is included and highlighted correctly.
- One story represents an achievement, one represents failure, and one represents a general skill.