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Nurse’s Guide to Behavioral Interviewing, Part 2: How to Prepare For and Crush Your Behavioral Interview

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Interview preparation will determine whether you crush your interview or it crushes you. Preparation is far more complicated for a behavioral interview than it is for a traditional interview. Because you cannot be really sure exactly what they are going to ask you, preparation can prove difficult. You need to be prepared for anything that might be thrown at you. Obviously, you can’t be ready for everything and feeling that you need to take another four-credit course just to prepare for your interview isn’t appealing either. So let’s discuss how to prepare for your behavioral interview.

The SHARE Model

The panel will take turns asking you questions for your interview. For the behavioral part of the interview, you will want to sequence all of your responses using the SHARE model. More specifically, the SHARE model is:

  • Situation:
  • Here, you want to describe a specific situation. Hit the main points that are important for the story at large. Don’t get too carried away with details that are not relevant to the actual question. Be specific and to the point.

  • Hindrances:
  • What were the hindrances or challenges you faced in this situation? Describe them specifically. Was a patient being difficult? Were finances not available? Was staffing short?

  • Action:
  • Here is the big point: What did you do? This is your time to shine. Something wasn’t right or needed intervention and you were the one who took action to address the problem. What did you do and how? The action section will likely take up the majority of your answer depending on the situation.

  • Results:
  • Also of importance is the result that came of your actions. If your actions were not helpful or didn’t solve the issue, then you did nothing of value. Here is where you show the panel that you recognized an issue, addressed it and took steps to achieve a favorable outcome as a result. Results matter!

  • Evaluation:
  • Another important aspect that can often be overlooked is the evaluation element of your behavioral interview. The panel will want to see that you learned from this experience and hear about what you took away from the situation. Anybody can coast through life with no intentionality, but one who can look back, assess what happened and learn from the situation is better off than those who can’t.

    Remember that each behavioral question will have a response that encompasses each element of the SHARE model. Consider now that you could expect between a handful to 10 or more behavioral interview questions for a single interview. That means you will need at least 5 to 10 discrete instances thought out using the SHARE model. What I have found helpful is thinking of 10 to 12 stories that show something great about me that would be relevant to the potential job I am applying for. After doing so, I categorize each of my experiences and label them. Most of the behavioral interview questions will be categorized.

    Categories include:

    • Communication
    • Leadership
    • Conflict resolution
    • Critical thinking
    • Professionalism
    • Teamwork
    • Problem solving

    The goal is that when you field a question you will readily be able to find a specific answer that you have already thought through and can share straightforwardly with the panel. Instead of meandering through your thoughts in a high-pressure situation, you have already handpicked some stories that exemplify how you handled a particular situation successfully. The difficult part is managing the stories you have prepared properly. You don’t know how many questions from a particular category might be asked or how many questions there might be altogether. If you get two questions along the lines of critical thinking and have only thought through one story, you will have to come up with something on the fly, which is an enviable choice in such a high-pressure situation. That is why having stories that could fall into multiple categories is helpful. If I use my best leadership story and the panel asks another question about leadership, then I will have a backup story or can pull a story from another category that also exemplifies leadership.

    It is not unlikely that you will get some traditional questions in a behavioral interview, questions such as: Tell us about yourself and what are your career aspirations? Be ready for those. But the meat of the interview will be behavioral questions. Using the SHARE model and preparing wisely will help you fully answer each question and help you set yourself apart from the competition. Good luck!

    Read Part 1 of Nurse’s Guide to Behavioral Interviewing

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    About the Author

    Tyler Faust is a full-time registered nurse and part-time freelance healthcare writer. He has his BSN and master’s degree from Winona State University and has worked at Mayo Clinic for over 5 years. Tyler is a creative thinker, strategist, and passionate about leadership.