ward. There is not a lot of time for long
arguments. We follow an internal policy:
disagree and obey. How does this sound
My next interview was with another
semiconductor company in New York.
This was a small startup. I thought I
would have a lot of freedom with this
company and could design the process
the way I wanted. Again, I was wrong.
This interview went exactly the same
way as the first, and similar questions
were asked, such as: “How good are
you at teamwork? What would be your
reaction if the team suggests that your
process has a problem, but you are con-
on behavioral questions. According to
the recruiter, behavioral questions can
predict an employee’s on-the-job perfor-
mance five times more accurately than
traditional interview questions about the
candidate’s analytical and technical skills.
After starting my work as an industrial
Getting serious about
scientist I, too, have used behavioral
questions during interviews to gauge the
characteristics of candidates for positions
that opened up in our group. After all,
the cost of hiring the wrong person for
My third on-site interview was with a
chemical company in the Midwest. In an
effort to help me prepare for the interview,
the recruiting firm told me this would be a
behavioral interview. They e-mailed me a
list containing 40 or so questions that the
employers might ask and provided me with
some suggestions for answering behavioral
I use storytell-
ing to convince
that I would
I should give examples from the past
where I encountered similar situa-
tions as described in each question. He
explained the ‘SAR’ method, where
S is situation, A is action, and R
is result. To answer each question,
I should first describe a situation or
problem, then what action I took to
solve the problem, and lastly what the
outcome was. He also revealed why
he was eager to help me: the position
was still open after many on-site inter-
views, because none of the previous
Questions on ability to handle stress, take
criticism, and take initiative:
Describe a situation in which you were required •
to work under pressure and how you reacted.
Describe a time when you showed initiative. •
Describe a time when you found yourself chal- •
lenged. How did it work out?
Talk about a time when your work or idea was •
criticized and how you handled it.
Questions on decision making and problem solving abilities:
Give an example of a time when you had to keep from speaking or making a •
decision because you didn’t have enough information.
Discuss an example of a time when you had to make a quick decision. •
What is the toughest group you have had to get cooperation from? •
Did you ever have difficulty getting others to accept your ideas? What was your •
approach? Did it work?
Questions on motivation, communication, interpersonal skills, and
Describe a situation when you were able to have a positive influence on the •
action of others.
Talk about a situation when you had to speak up in order to make a point that •
was important to you.
Have you ever had to “sell” an idea to your team members? How did you do it? •
Did they buy it?
What have you done in the past to contribute toward a teamwork environment? •
How do you decide what gets top priority when scheduling your time? •