Job Interview Tips for New Grads: How to Answer Common Behavioral Interview Questions

As a recent grad or student with limited professional experience, you might find it challenging to showcase your future on-the-job behavior, so interview preparation is key.


Student graduating

As a recent grad or student with limited professional experience, you might find it challenging to showcase your future on-the-job behavior, so interview preparation is key. Different types of job interview questions require unique research and a good understanding of what answers your recruiter is looking for.

Behavioral-based interview questions are common in interviews and essentially give an interviewer an idea of how you've performed and behaved in the past based on actual results and scenarios. Behavioral questions start off sounding something like this:

  • Describe a situation when…
  • What do you do if…
  • Have you ever…
  • Give me an example of…
  • Tell me about a time when…

The behavioral interview question style is being adopted by many top employers globally. Responses to these questions allow hiring managers to gauge if you’re a good fit for their organization. Here’s how to perform well in your interview if you’re asked these questions:

1. Recognize the skills required for the job

Study the skills that are outlined in the job description since it’s the perfect insight into what an employer is looking for. A thorough understanding of these skills is a great way to anticipate the behavioral interview questions they may ask to gauge your proficiency as it relates to these skills. For example, if time management is a sought-after skill, the interviewer may ask you to describe a situation where you had to be strategic with your time to meet your priorities.

2. Consider your varying experience

Relevant experience isn’t only gained through formal employment. As a new grad, you’ve accumulated a great amount of experience through your education, group projects, exam preparation, co-ops or volunteer work, and maybe even part-time work. Take the time to review your past experiences to identify when and how you harnessed the skills required for the position.

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3. Showcase your talents and skills

As well as your hard skills like IT knowledge, ability to use equipment or software, etc., employers are also looking for candidates with strong soft skills that will impact the way you work with others and get the job done under different circumstances. Showcase some of your best attributes which could include communication, organization, creativity, responsibility and stress management. Use real-life examples to demonstrate to the hiring manager why you’re the best candidate for the job.


4. Structure your answers using the STAR method

One of the best ways to structure your responses is by using the STAR method. This follows the effective and easy-to-understand structure of Situation, Task, Action and Result! Here’s a quick rundown on implementing the STAR method:

Situation: Set the scene and describe how the situation unfolded

Task: Describe what your responsibility was and how you identified the task at hand

Action: Detail exactly the actions you took

Result: Explain the results of your actions and what impact you had

Pre-develop your answers to keep them in line and focused, ensuring you don’t lose direction from the question at hand and provide the interviewer with a clear and concise response. Practicing your STAR answers out-loud is a great way to gain confidence and deliver even better responses in a real job interview.


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