This guest post was provided by Pathrise, an online mentorship program that works with students and professionals on every component of their job search. Pathrise has helped 500+ people land great jobs in tech through their workshops and 1-on-1 mentorship.
A lot of effort goes into practicing for technical interviews, including preparing portfolio case studies, working through common product design interview questions, and whiteboarding with peers or mentors.
People often feel ready for their interviews once they have the technical concepts down, but in fact, they are leaving a very important step out. Preparing for behavioral interviews is just as necessary as technical interviews because these sessions can be the determining factor between a rejection and an offer.
Candidates typically participate in behavioral interviews in their phone screens and onsite interviews. While companies vary somewhat, there are some common behavioral interview questions that will likely be asked. At Pathrise, we have helped many people prepare for their interviews and land incredible jobs. Here are our tips so that you can do the same.
The first step should be research. You need to learn everything you can about this company so that you can explain to them how you would be a good fit with their culture and mission. We recommend starting this research on the company About page, where you can learn about their mission, history, and values.
Next, try to find more info about their culture on their Careers or Jobs page, which can help you find out what they are looking for in a new employee. Some larger companies, like Facebook, have Culture pages or Life at [Company] pages, which are also great places to get information on their values.
Once you have a sense of the company’s mission and culture, you can start to prepare for common behavioral interview questions. The goal is for you to be able to know what you want to say in response to these questions without sounding memorized or rehearsed.
You also want to add information about the company into your responses, so that they know you did your research and you are a good fit for their organization.
Here are some examples of common behavioral interview questions and how you can plan your responses.
“Tell me about yourself”
This question, or some form of it, will almost always come up at the beginning of your sessions. Think of it as a kickoff to the interview. Since you know it will be asked, there is no reason for you not to knock it out of the park.
To successfully answer this question, you should plan out an elevator pitch that hits these key points:
- Your education
- Your experience
- Relevant projects you have done
- A summary of yourself as it relates to the company and their mission (this is where your research comes in handy)
Here is an example:
Hi, I’m [name]. I graduated from [school] in [year], with a major in [concentration]. I’ve always been interested in working in [field]. [Talk about the reason why.]
While I was at school, I spent summers as a [type of] intern at [company or companies]. While working at [specific company or position], I learned a lot about [connection to company you are interviewing with]. [Discuss the rest of your experience – include up to 1-2 other projects/extracurriculars if there is anything especially impressive in terms of leadership or accomplishments.]
With my experience and studies, I know I would be a valuable addition to the team, helping make an impact doing [company mission.] [Very briefly explain why that mission is important to you – you will have more time to elaborate on this later so just give a preview.]