PRACTICING ANSWERS to interview questions is a great resume building technique. This strategy gives you permission to talk about your accomplishments and successes. Answering questions will also help you remember the details; the things that you may otherwise dismiss because it is just something you did as part of your work.
Our resume clients often tell us that answering the questions we ask them during the information gathering stage of the resume development process helps them prepare for an interview.
The style of question we use most often is called a behavioural style question. This style of question is the best for drawing out stories about how you applied your knowledge, skills, abilities and other attributes (KSAO) in the past. Stories are always better than abstract answers.
What are Behavioural Style Interview Questions?
You will recognize behavioural style questions because they will ask you to tell a story rather than speculate, e.g. ‘Describe a time when…’ Or ‘Tell me about a time when’.
For example, when the traditional style question, “What are your weaknesses?” is asked using a behavioural style, it becomes something like, “Tell me about a time you had to overcome a weakness.”
In another example, the traditional interview question, “How would you handle an upset customer/client?” asks you to draw on your knowledge of customer service. However, when it is asked as a behavioural style question, it asks for a story e.g., “Tell me about a time you had to handle an upset customer.” In most situations, a behavioural style question will draw out your skills, abilities and attributes.
You can see that your answer to a behavioural style question would be more of a story and therefore it will provide more content for a resume.
In an interview, behavioural style questions are usually easier to answer and they provide the interviewer with better information, which is why they are becoming increasingly popular.
If you immediately respond to an interview question with a story, it is likely that you have been asked a behavioural style question.
To help you think about what you might include on your resume, consider the following questions.
- Tell me about a time when you:
- Accomplished something you were proud of.
- Achieved a goal you set for yourself.
- Learned something new.
- Took the lead.
- Solved a problem.
- Learned through experience.
- Faced a challenge successfully.
- Took responsibility for a decision.
- Accomplished something you set out to do (task, goal, target).
- Received constructive criticism.
- Demonstrated your commitment to ongoing learning.
- Adapted to a new situation.
- Used your computer skills to complete a project.
- Met a tight deadline.
- Volunteered in the community.
- Record five behavioural style questions from this list or from your own experience.
- Start each question with “Tell me about a time when…” or “Describe a time when…”.
- Think about how you might answer each question – what examples could you provide?
- Check your resume to see if this information is included.
- You won’t need to include the story, but draw out the knowledge, skills, abilities or attributes described in the story.
- Consider if any of the stories could be added to your cover letter
- If there is anything missing, think about how you might add it to your resume.
- Contact Resume Pro Canada if you have any questions about developing your interview skills or your resume. Send email to or phone (705)745-1607.