Top tips for behavioral interview prep – 2021 update

Check out our article with top tips for behavioral interview prep!

Updated in 2021

Getting an email from a recruiter asking to schedule an interview can make you feel both excited and nervous. That’s completely normal! However, at Pathrise, we have helped over 1,000 people get great jobs through training and preparation. We are here to help you remove some of the anxiety of interviewing.

We have found that a lot of people think that they don’t need to prepare for behavioral interviews because they are just talking about themselves. But, that is not true! There is a lot that goes into behavioral interview prep and so we wanted to share our top tips so that you can be successful, too.

The first time you interact with a recruiter will usually be an introduction phone screen. The purpose of this call is to get an understanding of your experience and interest. It will likely be casual, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare! This is your first opportunity to talk to someone who works at the company and show you are excited. Read our guide on how to prepare for a phone interview here. We also have a list of phone interview questions and answers to help you practice.

For your phone screens and later behavioral sessions, the first preparation step is always to do research on the company’s mission and values. Check out their About page and additional culture pages if they exist. For example, if you are preparing for your interviews with Stripe, there are a few different places where you can find information that will help you show your excitement, interest, passion, and culture fit.

About page

This is where you can learn about the company mission, history, the solutions that they are using to accomplish their mission, and their goals for the future. When you are preparing your elevator pitch, include how you fit into their mission as your conclusion. 

For example, with Stripe, their mission is “to increase the GDP of the internet” by building “economic infrastructure for the internet.” So, here is an example of how you can conclude your elevator pitch with a connection to Stripe’s mission:

With my experience as a software engineering intern in the financial industry, I know I would be a valuable addition to the team, making an impact with Stripe’s mission to build economic infrastructure that will increase the GDP of the Internet.

Photo of Stripe mission page
Photo of behavioral interview prep through research

Jobs page

You can also make use of the company jobs or careers page. Look here to find information about the qualities that go into successful candidates. If they don’t explicitly link to a Culture or Life page, they might make mention of it on this page. Use this information to get a better sense of what is important to them and how the company is organized. They might also mention if they have mentorship opportunities or diversity and inclusion commitments. You can bring this up in the interview as elements that are important to you in your next job.

Photo of Stripe jobs page
Photo of Stripe careers page for behavioral interview prep

Culture page

Sometimes these pages are called Culture or Life at Company Name, like Life at Stripe. Navigating to these pages will give you an even better sense of what they feel is important in an employee. Your job is to show them you are a good fit with those values. Craft some responses to popular behavioral interview questions like “Why should we hire you?” and “What is your greatest strength?” with these elements in mind.

For example at Stripe, they say, “Stripe is for the versatile, the supportive, the impatient, and most of all, the obsessively user focused.” So, when they ask you a question like “Why are you interested in Stripe?” or “What is the most important thing when you are working on a product?”, you should make sure that you highlight how you are user focused and give examples from your past experiences and projects.

We’ve created a guide showing you how to research a company, which you can review for more tips. Once you have done research and gotten a good sense of the company’s mission and values, you can prepare your responses so that you go into the interview with confidence. We’ve also compiled a list of behavioral interview questions from top tech companies that you can use to practice. We recommend writing down your responses and then saying them aloud to yourself in a mirror or a friend. Just be careful not to memorize too completely because you want it to sound natural.

Don’t forget…

When preparing your response, remember to be succinct and avoid rambling. For an example, check out our guide, which explains how to answer “What is your greatest weakness?” Rather than continue talking for too long, curb yourself by offering to go into more detail. That way, it is on the interviewer to decide if they want you to speak more on that subject. This will also help you be more specific.

You should also be careful to avoid negative language when speaking about former coworkers, experiences, and projects. Even if they are asking a question about a project that didn’t go well or a disagreement with a coworker, make sure that you remain positive and solution-oriented while giving examples of what you learned from the experience. They want to see that you handle sticky situations efficiently and professionally.

With the above tips on behavioral interview prep, you should feel ready for your behavioral interviews and go in with confidence.

Pathrise is a career accelerator that works with students and professionals 1-on-1 so they can land their dream job in tech. With these tips and guidance, our fellows have seen their interview scores double.

If you want to work with any of our mentors 1-on-1 to optimize your interviews or with any other aspect of the job search, become a Pathrise fellow.

Apply today.

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