There’s one kind of interview question for a potential investment banking job that can open up a Pandora’s Box full of problems, unless you are prepared. That’s the message from Bradley CVs Ltd., in a recent article.
What are they? Behavioral questions that are intended to reveal how you might act in a future situation.
First, you must learn to spot them. Behavioral questions are open-ended and invite you to describe an experience or event in which you were involved. They often begin with phrases such as…
– Tell me about the time when…
– Describe a time when…
– Give me an example of when you…
– Please discuss a time when you…
The interviewer is trying to see how well your past performance in a situation will translate into the position they are trying to fill today. They may have a specific set of skills or behaviors they are looking for. Often, the interviewer will follow up with questions such as, “tell me what steps you took” or “what was your thinking behind your decisions?”
The responses you provide give the interviewer a snapshot how you are likely to behave in a new role. It also reveals character traits and integrity because, as Bradley’s points out, if you’ve made up a story or fudged any details, your story will easily fall apart under close questioning.
There are almost an unlimited number of behavioral questions that you could face in an interview. So it’s difficult to prepare for all of them. However, there are a few tricks to keep in mind.
First, by reading the job description carefully, you can probably surmise the types of skills and experience the employer is looking for. You should select achievements and events that closely match these criteria, and prepare your stories accordingly. In choosing the most relevant events, have plenty of factual evidence handy to back up your behavioral story. You should also research the company’s background to identify what behavioral characteristics might be most valued with respect to its mission.
Bradley’s gives a 4-step approach to structuring your stories so they are succinct and effective:
– Set the scene by outlining the situation or problem
– Tell how you became involved and why
– Explain what you did to help resolve the problem or improve things
– Conclude by revealing what the outcome was, either measured in numerical facts or by describing the results
One more piece of advice: in addition to the stories that relate to the skills in your resume, they suggest you have ready-made examples demonstrating your strengths in:
– How you relate to people and communicate well (example: Describe a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or colleague)
– How you accomplished something significant (example: Describe an accomplishment from the past year that you are proud of)
– How well you can prioritize things (example: Tell us about a situation when you had a lot of deadlines at the same time and the steps you took to complete the tasks on time)
– How you solve problems (Describe a time when you were creative in solving a problem)
What about you? Have you fielded behavioral questions in an investment banking job interview? How did you prepare for them? Add your comments below.