Behavioral Questions

Following Dave’s advice, I am reading the book CRACKING THE CODING  INTERVIEW. It is a great book, not only listed all the knowledge I should know to pass the coding tests, but also mentioned how to prepare for general non-tech questions I may neglect, such as behavioral questions. Here are some tips.

Projects

Questions often come from the projects listed on resume. So to ensure I can talk more details about them, those projects should be selected following these criteria:

  • The project had challenging components (beyond just “learning a lot”).
  • I played a central role (ideally on the challenging components).
  • I can talk at technical depth.

Here are more components would be helpful for going through each project. This grid can be filled with some keywords, and put it in front of me during an interview as a reminder.

Common Questions Project 1 Project 2 Project 3
Challenges
Mistakes/Failures
Enjoyed
Leadership
Conflicts
What You’d do Differently

Response

When answering behavioral questions, it should be specific, but with limited details, and offers an opportunity for the interviewer to drill in further. For example, putting “I can go into more details if you’d like” after a clear and short answer.

The expanded answer should be structured. Start with a “nugget” succinctly describes what it will be about, then approach it via three steps of Situation, Action and Result. The Action should be more detailed as it is the most important step, so break it into multiple parts to encourage sufficient depth. Also, rephrase it in a better way to demonstrate personal attributes like Initiative, Leadership, Empathy, Compassion, Humility, Teamwork and Helpfulness.

Here is also a grid would be helpful for organizing stories:

Nugget Situation Actions Result Attributes
Story 1 1…2…3…
Story 2 1…2…3…

Weaknesses

To avoid making myself looks arrogant, give a real weakness. I think my biggest weakness now is time management and execution.

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