So on Thursday morning, I have a Behavioral-Event Interview (BEI) lined up at a prospective graduate school just a couple dozen klicks to our south.
It would've been done over the phone, which I think would've been to my significant disadvantage, but the recent events described in my last two posts sort of changed things up enough to reinforce my belief that all plans are written in sand on a windy day.
Anyway, a BEI is a way for a *screener* to avoid the standard-fare job interviews which basically ask people to rehash their resumes, boast about achievements already described in other material, and then give shamelessly obnoxious, canned answers to the "toughies" like "What is your biggest weakness?" ('Too much of a perfectionist,' 'too dedicated to my job,' and 'too likely to put others' needs above my own' would all instantly disqualify applicants from the imaginary firm I imagine myself someday running, just in case anyone's keeping score at home).
Instead, a BEI goes off the idea that how you've reacted to and solved problems in the recent past is the best indicator of how you would do those things in the future (in the intelligence world, that'd get the five-dollar term 'historical pattern analysis for predictive modeling'). The questions are more likely to start with, "How did you react to difficulty when..." or "Tell me about a time you felt frustrated because..." and then followed up with lots of probing questions about where you went right, left, wrong, or indifferent, and what you'd change if you were faced with it all over again.
As with any other interview, preparation is critical. And as with any other interview, those most in danger of flubbing it are the ones who think their 'gift of gab' can pull them through anything (it can't), and therefore the only preparation needed is on the part of the to-be-dazzled interviewer.
I'll spend a couple hours each day this week prepping, with this old military adage kept firmly in mind: "Embrace the suck...before it embraces you." People might look *forward* to a BEI in the same way they would a root canal, but they don't have to. If the preparation forces you to take a truly close, critical eye to the management decisions you've made over the past five years, that might be a really great thing in and of itself. That's irrespective, of course, of any one person's opinion of how the whole thing goes, or the thickness of the envelope coming in the mail next month.
Whether it's a BEI or any other stressful event looming on your calendar, the process becomes a heckuva lot more meaningful when you learn to embrace it. I'll let other people stress the outcome.