What’s up everyone. Sam here from byte-by-byte.com and today I want to talk to you about behavioral interviews. So we spend a lot of time on this
channel talking about technical interviewing right. We spend a lot of
time going through different coding interview questions and strategies to
come up with the right solutions to these problems. But something that we
don’t talk a lot about and that I want to talk about in this video is
behavioral interviewing. Because this is really important in addition to the
technical stuff. And what is behavioral interviewing?
So for those of you who don’t know, behavioral interviewing is all the
non technical stuff. It’s all the soft skills, it’s all of the basically what
you would think of if you thought of any other sort of interview. Like tell me
about your greatest weakness or telling me about a time that you had a fight
with a team member. Any of these sorts of questions are behavioral interviewing.
And so I want to talk through some strategies that you can use to really
answer these behavioral interviews effectively. So first I want to go
through a couple of mistakes that I see people make when they’re doing
behavioral interviews. So the very first one is rambling. And rambling is just
like going on and on about something and not having a clear point to what you’re
trying to tell. And the reason why that’s so difficult and the reason why that
screws you up is because if you’re not clear in your mind of what it is that
you want to say, then your interviewer is not going to be clear either. And so if
you can’t convey yourself clearly then it’s going to be really difficult for
your interviewer to get excited about you as a candidate. And obviously to pass
you on to the next level. So you want to make sure that you are very concise with
your answers and I’ll talk to you about that in a little bit. I’ll share some
strategies for how we can do that. Next up the number two thing is not selling
yourself enough. And as engineers we just tend not to do this right. We’re not
salesy people. We don’t like to brag about ourselves. We like to just do great
work and then you know people will realize right. But the problem with that
is that people don’t always realize. Right we’d like to think that the world
is fair and everything’s meritocracy. But it’s really not as much
of a meritocracy as we would like. You really do have to sell yourself and you
have to show what your accomplishments were. And that’s the purpose of a
behavioral interview. So don’t worry about bragging about yourself. Don’t
worry about showing them what you’ve accomplished showing your interview or
how you are great at the things that you do. Because that’s gonna be really
valuable for them to honestly just understand how great you actually are.
Like you know you’re great so make sure that they know that you’re great too. The
next problem that I see a lot is people not being genuine. And by not being
genuine I mean things like when they ask you what your greatest weakness is
saying something like my greatest weakness is that I work too hard and
that I’m too passionate. Right like that doesn’t come across as genuine, because
that’s not we know that’s not really a weakness. And so try and be honest and
open but also paint things in a positive light. Right you can be you can talk
about something in a negative way or a positive way. I could talk about the
weather this morning and say this morning was the worst I got up and the
sun was shining right in my eyes. And it was really hot outside and it was
terrible. So that would be a negative light. I could also talk about this
morning in a positive light. I could be like it was so nice when I woke up this
morning and the Sun was shining through the window and then I went outside and
it was warm for the first time because it’s you know we’re in April now and
it’s been cold and rainy. So today it was super nice. Like same weather… totally
different description. Right so you have to think about how you’re describing
things and how they’re gonna come across. And you can do the exact same thing with
your interviewing. And the last thing which goes sort of along the same lines
that’s a mistake that I see a lot is not answering the question. So when they ask
you a question you don’t want to ramble on because you don’t really have a
answer you don’t want to say something disingenuous. You want to just answer the
question but painted in that positive light. So if you had a problem with a
team member and that team member was you know being
really difficult and ultimately you just didn’t get along. Paint it as you know I
had this really difficult time with this teammate, but this is how I learned from
it and this is how I improved. You can always add up I have this terrible
experience and this is what I learned and this is how I’m better now.
As an easy way to take any negative thing and turn it into a positive thing.
Now I want to talk through a couple just like a sort of basic strategy for
preparing for these behavioral interviews. Because I think that we tend
to spend a lot of time preparing for other stuff but we don’t necessarily
spend a lot of time preparing for these. So the very first step that you should
consider when you’re preparing for the interviews is researching the company
that you’re looking at. If you don’t research the company you don’t really
know what they’re looking for. And you can get clues to what they’re looking
for by reading the job description. Like if they say that they’re looking for
someone who has strong initiative or strong leadership skills or anything
like that, then how can you work those into your answers? You want to have an
idea of like sort of go through that you can just go through the job description
and say like what are the main things that they’re saying that they’d like to
see? Or look at the company ethos like with Amazon they have their leadership
principles. Understand that because that’s going to allow you to then
highlight those things in the behavioral interview in your answers. So the next
step step number two is to fill out the inner your interview preparation grid
and I’m gonna link to below my blog post that covers all this stuff as well. And
there will be a link to that interview preparation grid in there. But basically
the idea is you have different categories of question and you have
different jobs. And so you want to come up with answers to basically what was my
like what was my experience at this job that fits into each of the
categories. And well this does is it gives you a series of stories that you
can use to answer any behavioral interview question. And it
gives you the context and it makes you think about things ahead of time so
you’re not trying to pull these out at the last second. And the I should also
mention that the grid comes originally from Cracking the Coding Interview so
you can also find a copy of that even Cracking the Coding Interview as well if
you have a copy of that book. So the next thing that you’re gonna want to do step
number three is to think about what are, what is sort of like a quick description
of each project? Well how do I set the stage for this project in like one to
two sentences. You don’t want to be saying a lot. Because you don’t want to be
wasting a ton of time in your interview. But you also want to give them enough
context that they’ll be able to really understand what was going on. And
understand your story. So I think it can be really helpful to just sort of even
write out like this is my two sentence description of each of the projects or
each of the jobs that I had. And have those sort of prepared for your
interview. Step number four is to practice. Right so start and practice is
actually going to get broken down into two steps. So first you can practice
using your interview prep grid. Right you can practice using the grid and
answering different questions and finding you know different stories in
your grid that are going to work for you. And then after you’ve done that for a
little bit practice without using the grid. You know
you shouldn’t have too much trouble remembering what’s in there. And it’s not like you have to memorize the grid. But you just wanna have a good sense so
that these things are top of mind for you and you can pull them up quickly in
your memory. And aren’t sitting there being like
can you give me like two minutes to think about… You don’t want to do that in
your interview right. So practicing and having a pretty good idea of these
things is going to make it really helpful. And the last thing that I want
to talk about in this video that I alluded to earlier is how to structure
your answers. How to make sure that you’re actually conveying yourself
clearly in the interview. And there is a common technique for this called the
STAR technique, which stands for situation, task, action, result. And using
that framework gives a good structure to your answers so that you are structuring
them in a clear way that makes sense and that ultimately answers the question. So
the way that you want to think about this is that you’re gonna have your
situation first and optionally you’re gonna just summarize what you’re gonna
say at the beginning before you even get into this. So optional one to two
sentence summary. I’m going to tell you about the time that I was doing this
internship and you know everything broke at 2:00 in the morning.
Right so that’s your sort of overview and then you’re gonna describe the
situation. So I was doing an internship at Facebook and I had been there for two
weeks. It’s like one to two sentences. Then you’re gonna describe the task. You
know my my supervisor emailed me at 2:00 in the morning saying that everything
was broken and that I needed to fix it. So then you describe the action. Again
like situation and task we’re both like one two sentences each tops. Then you
describe the action. So I got out that I rushed to the office and I spent and
then I went into the debugger that I had built and I started testing different
things. And you know you have more I’m just making up a story here but you have
the detail so fill in the detail here. And then finally what was the result? So
the result was that we actually when we fix the bug. But then we also reduced the
rate of failure by like 20 percent. Or whatever it is. Here’s where you sell
yourself right. Here’s where you say we got this awesome result
from this from this thing that we did. And so that’s the star method right. So
that’s the situation task action result. And by doing that you’re structuring
your answer in a really clear way that shows them exactly how what you did
relates to what they’re asking you. So these are just a handful of strategies
that you can use to really nail down your behavioral interviews. I go into a
lot more examples in the blog post that I linked to below so definitely check
that out. And or you can just go I think it’s byte-by-byte.com/behavioral-interviews and so definitely check out the blog post. They’re a bunch of
practice problems, a bunch of resources in there. If you like this video please
give us a subscribe below and you can also click below to download our free
pdf on 50 different interview questions that come up a lot during your interviews.
So if you want some extra practice that would be a great place to go. And I look
forward to talking to you again soon.