"Tell me about a time when..." CBBI questions unveiled

Ever been tripped up in an interview by questions like this: “Tell me about a time when you have encountered a customer who was complaining of poor service. What did you do?” or “Tell me about a time you had to work with conflicting, delayed, or ambiguous information.” Well do not fear, the interviewer is not trying to trick you, he or she really just wants to know about your experiences and how you have actually acted in a situation, not how you might act or what strategies you know of. Also they might be trying to discover what you think is a stressful situation. This could be good for you, because you get the opportunity to show how well you handle stress, and that everyday little occurrences or upset customers are not that upsetting to you.

These types of questions are called Competency-Based Behavioral Interview questions (CBBI) and they are becoming more and more popular these days, so it is better to get used to them than to hope you won’t be asked one. Benefits for you of CBBI questions: 1) There is relevance between the questions asked and the position, as opposed to questions like, “If you were a salad, what would you have in you other than lettuce?” – Who prepared for this question and what is the point? 2) You can use your life experience to answer a question if you do not have work experience to demonstrate competency (i.e. How in life have you been adaptable or taken initiative?).

You shouldn’t necessarily practice your answers to these types of questions, as that doesn’t really help you in the interview, but it doesn’t hurt to be familiar with the format and anticipate the type of question. Try to practice giving STAR responses. Describe the Situation and the Task at hand, describe the Action you took, and the Results.

For further information refer to: High Impact Interview Questions: 701 Behavior-Based Questions to find the Right Person for Every Job, by Victoria A. Hoevemeyer.