An Introduction to Behavior Based Interviewing

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Companies today are looking for a candidate who not only fits the description of a position based on their experience but will also make an impact with their personality and responsive skills.

Behavioral interviews use questions based on discovering how the interviewee acted in specific employment-related situations. This gives the employer a better look into how the interviewee has behaved in the past so they can better predict how they would behave in the future.

What's the difference between behavior based interviewing and traditional interviewing?

“Traditional interviewing includes many different types of questions that are typically straight forward, such as "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" or "What major challenges and problems did you face? Behavioral interviewing focuses on questions that ask the candidate to describe how he or she has handled various situations throughout his or her career,” says Pyles.

Behavioral interviewing has evolved from research which has shown that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. An employer has to decide what skills are needed in a potential hire and will ask questions to find out if that candidate poses those skills.

“Instead of asking how you would behave, they will ask how you did behave. The interviewer will want to know how you handled a situation, instead of what you might do in the future,” says Pyles.

What are types of questions asked in a behavioral interview?

Behavioral interview questions will be more pointed and specific than traditional interview questions. They are generally targeted to skills required for a specific job.

Depending on the job you are applying for, some questions you might be asked in a behavioral interview are:

  • Give me an example of when you “wowed a customer.”
  • Tell me about a time when you were faced with a problem that you didn't know how to solve. What actions did you take and what were the results?
  • Tell me about an action you took in response to a misunderstanding with a coworker or boss. Why did you select that approach? What was the outcome/result? What did you learn? How did you apply what you learned in a different situation?
  • When you started your last job, what did you do to get yourself up to speed? How long did it take before you felt confident in the role?

What are a few tips for hiring managers preparing for a behavior-based interview?

Pyles says it’s important when conducting a behavioral interview to remember a few things.

“First, identify anywhere from 5-9 behaviors and or skills that differentiate employees who have been successful and unsuccessful in the role for which you are hiring.”

These behaviors or skills will be different for each job. For example, if you were hiring for a sales position you may choose assertiveness and negotiation skills, or for an IT job you may choose project management and trouble shooting.

“It’s important to ask one behavior-based question for each behavior,” says Pyles. “Prior to interviewing any candidates, document your desired answers for each question, such as what themes you are looking for in the candidate’s response. Also, be sure to ask all candidates the same core questions.”

It’s essential to ask the same core questions for each candidate because it helps the interviewer make hiring decisions based on the candidates’ answers to the questions vs. other factors that can lead to discrimination against certain candidates.

Hiring managers should also make sure to prepare candidates ahead of time by notifying them in advance that the company will be using the behavioral interviewing method.

“Hiring managers want to set candidates up for success, not failure,” says Pyles. “By explaining the style of interviewing they use, they give the candidate the opportunity to come prepared to answer questions about how they have handled work situations in the past. During an interview, you want the candidate to be able to answer the questions so you can compare skills and fit vs. non-relevant factors.”

How are candidates evaluated following behavioral-based interviews?

It’s important to evaluate each candidate against your company’s criteria. So make sure to compare and see which candidate most closely matches your desired answers.

“If there were multiple interviewers, make sure to meet as a group to discuss the candidates. Be sure to discuss each candidate separately. ”

Pyles says it’s always important to discuss reservations first, then positive comments about the interviewee. After too much positive endorsement, an interviewer may hesitate to wave a valid red flag. And, if the candidate’s answers aren’t matching up with the company’s expectations, continue your search.

Behavioral Interviewing Training

Behavioral Interviewing Training

Participants will learn the importance of proper preparation for an behavioral interview.

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