We are all aware of the joke where our parents say that life’s set after 10th boards, and then 12th boards and then engineering and then MBA. Once you get into the MBA program, you realize that life’s not set yet. There are homework, assignments, projects, and if you are a first-year, then the most dreaded and awaited Summer Placement Process. After all the grilling you go through to make your CV look perfect, it is time to prepare for the D-Day.
Nowadays, a lot of companies use Behavioural questions to judge whether a candidate would be the right fit for the organization. Companies like Proctor & Gamble, Hindustan Unilever, Tata Administrative Services and ITC are known to ask BQs in their final interview round. To be able to ace your BQ interview like a pro, one should be aware of what it is and why do companies use this method.
Behavioral questions, or like we called them in my engineering days, HR questions, are asked to see how a candidate behaved in a particular situation. Companies like using this method because past behavior predicts future performance and gives them an idea of how the candidate will perform in different work situations. Resume already showcases their hard skills and educational qualifications. Through BQs the recruiters judge a candidate on their soft skills too.
Commonly Asked Behavioral Questions
The commonly asked behavioral questions are:
- Give an example of a situation when you used logic to solve a problem.
- Describe a time when you had to work with someone with a contrasting personality than yours. How did you build a relationship with them?
- Give an example of a goal you didn’t meet and how you handled it.
- Describe a situation where you had to make a tough decision that typically would have been escalated to your boss. How did you handle the decision-making process? What was the result?
- Have you ever had to change a project while it was in progress drastically? Why? How did you do it?
This list is non-exhaustive and goes on. The point to be noticed here is that these questions do not ask for your abstract ideas but the description of specific situations or events in your life. A problem most of us face while answering these questions is that “Our lives aren’t so happening. How can I answer these when I haven’t gone through such situations?” To make every such interviewee’s life easier, I have shared some tips from my experience:
Reflection – It’s true that not all our lives have been eventful. But to answer these questions, one doesn’t need an active life, but some four to five significant events and the ability to spin them according to the question asked. This way, you can use the same function to answer different questions. Reflection is the first step. Take some time to think of some significant events and note them down.
Values – Go through the company’s official website and note down their core values. Ensure that those values are reflected in your answers. Now, during the process, it might not be feasible to go through each company’s core values, so pick up three to four values which are common to all and stick to them.
STAR method – MBA professionals, are crazy about frameworks. The STAR method is one such framework which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. While answering BQs, we are essentially narrating a story. To ensure that you don’t get off track and get blown with the flow, try to stick to this model. This will also ensure that your answer is short and crisp and to the point.
Practice – I cannot stress enough how important this is. Practice saying the answers aloud. A mirror helps. Maintain a repository where you have all your answers to different questions. Then, go an ace your interview like a pro.
Here is a sample answer using the STAR method.
Q. Describe a situation where you achieved results against odds.
Situation: In my role as the Event Head of the college fest Technica, which is a Metallurgical Engineering Fest, I was heading a team of 10 members.
Task: We were responsible for organizing an event called Metarathon. It was a placement simulation event, which composed of three rounds, where the final round comprised of an interview with judges from top executive levels. Just before the final day, one of our judges cancelled upon us. As this was the most crucial round of all, we were in a fix.
Actions: I sat down with my team, and we racked our brains to come up with a solution. Then all of a sudden, an idea struck me. Since most of us had done our summer training in different industries in and around Jamshedpur, we had contacts of our mentors. Each of us tried contacting them, and within an hour and a half, we could get in touch with one of the managers at Steel Foundry Industries Pvt. Ltd. Though it was a last-minute invite, the gentleman was gracious enough to accept it.
Result: Against all the odds, the event was a huge success, and I was appreciated for thinking on my feet. This incident taught me that no matter how hard the going gets, there is always a way out. All we need is a little grit and determination.