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At Stanford, I studied improv theatre with Patricia Ryan Madson, who has taught everyone from college students to Silicon Valley executives from companies like Google how to tell believable stories.

I provide one-hour mock interview sessions with feedback. I also provide extended multi-hour training. We begin with an initial diagnostic mock interview, which helps me determine your strengths and weaknesses. In subsequent sessions, we can work on strategy, answer modeling, and mock interviewing.

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Behavioral Event-Based Interviews (BEI)

Behavioral Event-Based Interviews (BEI) 

What is BEI?

In the 1980’s, industrial psychologist Dr. Tom Janz introduced a method of interviewing called the “Behavioral Interview.” Research shows that this interviewing style is extremely effective, and MBA adcoms have started using it in interviews as well as essay questions, first at MIT and now, to a lesser extent, Wharton, Stanford, and other programs (depending on the interviewer).

Why do adcoms (and some alumni) use BEI?

The premise is that the best predictor of future behavior is your past behavior. In a behavioral interview you will have to demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and abilities, collectively known as competencies, by giving specific examples from your past experiences. Instead of asking how you would behave in a particular situation, the interviewer will ask you to describe how you did behave. Expect the interviewer to question and probe you for more details about what you thought, felt, said and did. Also, your interviewer will not allow you to theorize or generalize about several events.

How can you prepare for a Behavioral Event-Based Interview?

During a behavioral interview, always listen carefully to the question, ask for clarification if necessary, and make sure you answer the question completely. Your answer should contain these four steps (Situation, Task, Action, Result or "STAR") for optimum success.
  1. Situation: give an example of a situation you were involved in that resulted in a positive outcome
  2. Task: describe the tasks involved in that situation
  3. Action: talk about the various actions involved in the situation’s task
  4. Results: what results directly followed because of your actions
Whenever you can, quantify your results. Numbers illustrate your level of authority and responsibility. For example: "I was a shift supervisor." could be "As Shift Supervisor, I trained and evaluated 4 employees."

Example of a STAR Answer
  1. Situation: During my internship last summer, I was responsible for managing various events.
  2. Task: I noticed that attendance at these events had dropped by 30% over the past 3 years and wanted to do something to improve these numbers.
  3. Action: I designed a new promotional packet to go out to the local community businesses. I also included a rating sheet to collect feedback on our events and organized internal round table discussions to raise awareness of the issue with our employees.
  4. Result: We utilized some of the wonderful ideas we received from the community, made our internal systems more efficient and visible and raised attendance by 18% the first year.
Behavioral Interview Example

Question: “Describe a situation where you have had to deal with a difficult person.”

Answer: “I was transferred to a new project at my previous company to replace a beloved member of the team. My new team leader exhibited hostility towards me and I found myself left out of vital communications and meetings. After a few weeks, I was able to talk her into a one on one meeting. When laid out all of the key objectives for the team, the previous employees role in meeting those objectives, and then discussed goals that I could set to make sure I was able to serve as a quality replacement. In our discussion, we also identified a few underlying issues with management that she had been carrying around with her. In uncovering all of these sentiments, she was able to clearly define her situation and achieve an understanding with her supervisors. In the end, the entire team morale improved, I was able to exceed my goals and the company itself became more profitable from our teams increased performance.”

Follow-up questions will test for consistency and determine if you exhibited the desired behavior in that situation:
  • "Can you give me an example?"
  • "What did you do?"
  • "What did you say?"
  • "What were you thinking?"
  • "How did you feel?
  • "What was your role?"
  • "What was the result?"


  • Tell us about a time that you had to work on a team that did not get along. What happened? What role did you take? What was the result? Based on that example, what would you do if your MBA study team members were not getting along with each other? 
  • How do you resolve conflict on a team.
  • Tell me about a time when you experienced cultural conflict and how you handled it.
  • What role do you typically play in teams? 
  • Tell me about a time when you contributed to a team.
  • What has been your most difficult teamwork experience?  
  • Describe a situation in which you had to arrive at a compromise or help others to compromise. What was your role? What steps did you take? What was the end result?
  • Describe a team experience you found disappointing. What would you have done to prevent this?
  • Tell me about a time when you resolved a conflict in a group.
  • Tell us about the most difficult challenge you faced in trying to work cooperatively with someone who did not share the same ideas? What was your role in achieving the work objective?
  • What is the difficult part of being a member, not leader, of a team? How did you handle this?
  • When is the last time you had a disagreement with a peer? How did you resolve the situation?
  • Tell us about the most difficult or frustrating individual that you’ve ever had to work with, and how you managed to work with them.
  • Have you ever been a member of a group where two of the members did not work well together? What did you do to get them to do so?
  • What is the toughest group that you have had to get cooperation from? Describe how you handled it. What was the outcome?

  • What is your leadership style? Give me an example of a time when you displayed that leadership style.
  • Tell me your definition of leadership and give an example.
  • Tell me about a time when you exercised leadership.
  • Tell me about a time when you took initiative.
  • Tell me about a time when you introduced an innovation.
  • Tell me about a time when you solved an important problem.
  • Tell me about a time when you took a position different from the consensus view of your team / organization.
  • How do you show leadership outside of your job?
  • What leadership areas do you wish do develop through your MBA experience? What specifically do you plan to do at School X to develop in these ways?
  • Describe your leadership style and give an example of a situation when you successfully led a group.
  • Have you ever been in a position where you had to lead a group of peers? How did you handle it?
  • Give an example of a time in which you felt you were able to build motivation in your co-workers or subordinates at work.

  • What is your greatest accomplishment? 
  • What impact have your accomplishments had on your organization?

  • Have you ever failed?
  • How did you recover from this experience & what did you learn about yourself?
  • When have you faced a setback and how did you deal with it?
  • What has been your major work related disappointment? What happened and what did you do?

Ethics / Integrity
  • Discuss an ethical dilemma you faced at work.
  • Describe a situation where your values, ethics, or morals were challenged. How did you handle the situation? What did you learn about yourself?
Information pulled from various public sources including:

Watch a behavioral interview here