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What's and How's: The Two Pillars of Effective Behavioral Interview Answers

ai practice interviews behavioral interview answer behavioral interview question practice interviews ai Oct 03, 2023

If you're gearing up for a job interview, you've likely come across the term "behavioral questions." These questions are designed to assess your past behavior as an indicator of your future performance. In this blog post, we'll delve into a proven strategy to answer these questions effectively, thereby increasing your chances of landing the job.

Behavioral questions aim to evaluate your past actions to predict your future performance. Interviewers are not just interested in what you did, but how you did it. By focusing on the actions you took in past situations, you provide concrete evidence of your skills and competencies. This is the cornerstone of a compelling behavioral answer.

The crux of a compelling behavioral answer lies in the "What's" and "How's." These two elements serve as the backbone of your response, providing a structured and impactful narrative. The "What" refers to the specific actions you took in a given situation. It's the high-level overview that sets the stage for your answer. For example, if you led a project to improve customer satisfaction, your "What" could be implementing a new feedback system.

The "How," on the other hand, is the supporting framework that elaborates on the steps you took to achieve those actions. It's the nitty-gritty details that demonstrate your problem-solving skills, leadership, and other competencies. In the customer satisfaction example, your "How" could involve conducting surveys, analyzing data, and collaborating with different departments to implement changes.

But why is this distinction so crucial? It's because the "What" and "How" together create a complete picture of your capabilities. The "What" showcases your decision-making and strategic thinking, while the "How" reveals your execution skills and attention to detail.

Let's consider another example to drive the point home. Suppose you were tasked with reducing operational costs in your department. Your "What" could be "I initiated a cost-reduction program." The "How" could involve steps like conducting a thorough audit of current expenses, identifying inefficiencies, negotiating with vendors for better rates, and implementing new cost-saving measures.

It's also worth noting that the "How" often involves collaboration and communication skills. You may have consulted experts, led team meetings, or presented your findings to higher-ups. These details add depth to your "How," showcasing not just what you did but how effectively you did it.

By meticulously detailing your "What's" and "How's," you offer a comprehensive view of your skills and experience. This approach not only answers the question at hand but also provides the interviewer with a holistic understanding of your capabilities.

A common pitfall is veering into storytelling or providing excessive context. While a narrative can make your answer more engaging, it should not overshadow the "What" and "How." Stick to the point and avoid unnecessary embellishments that don't directly support your actions. This will make your answers more focused and impactful.
To master the art of answering behavioral questions, practice is key. Write down various examples that showcase your skills and rehearse them. Utilize transition phrases like "What I did was..." or "How I achieved it was..." to keep your answers structured and coherent.

Mastering behavioral questions can significantly boost your interview performance. By focusing on your actions and supporting them with the "What's" and "How's," you provide a compelling narrative that showcases your skills and experience. Implement these tips, and you're well on your way to acing your next interview.

For more resources visit my website - Practice Interviews and check out our AI Practice Interview App.

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