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"I did" vs. "I would"

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Behavioral interviewing has become the norm rather than the exception with all types of employers. Behavioral questions usually begin with a phrase such as "Gve me an example of a time…"or "Tell me about a time when you…." A variant of the behavioral question is the scenario question. Scenarios often begin with something like "How would you handle a situation where…." Scenario questions have been around a long time; most of us have been faced with them in interviews.

Answering behavioral questions successfully involves telling a short story. Begin with what the situation was, then tell what action you took. A very important aspect of the answer should be the results from the action you took. Some people use the "STAR" technique to tell the story:

S – What was the SITUATION?
T – What was the TASK you were faced with?
A – What ACTION did you take?
R – What was the RESULT of your action?

This works with scenario questions as well. You can answer the scenario question by telling what action you would take if faced with the situation.

But the BEST way to answer the scenario is to talk about an experience you have already had that matches the scenario. If you can draw from your teaching, student teaching, or other experiences to tell the story of how you have already resolved such a scenario, it is more powerful than your hypothetical resolution. Talking about what "I did" works even better than what "I would do."

--Kent McAnally,
Director of Career Services,
Washburn University on behalf of AAEE

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