Take a behavioral approach to interviewing

Take a behavioral approach to interviewing

Looking for a new team member? Try the "behavioral interview" approach when vetting your candidates. Match your questions to the skills your looking for and rate candidates on an equal scale. This will make the process it easier to nail down your perfect fit.

You’ve probably heard the term "behavioral interview" floating around more and more over the last couple of years and are wondering if this is something you should be doing. Here is a quick overview to help you determine if behavioral interviews are right for you.

Behavioral interviews are based on the idea that past performance is the best predictor of future performance and the questions are designed to reveal how well a candidate matches up with the key competencies, characteristics and/or skills desired by the employer.

10 popular behavioral questions

  1. Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
  2. Did you ever not meet your goals? Why?
  3. Describe a decision you made that was unpopular and how you handled implementing it.
  4. Have you handled a difficult situation with a client or vendor? How?
  5. Tell me about a time when you had to use your skills and expertise to influence someone’s opinion.
  6. How did you handle meeting a tight deadline?
  7. Tell me how you worked effectively under pressure.
  8. Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?
  9. Share an example of how you were able to motivate employees or co-workers.
  10. Provide an example of a time you handled a difficult situation with a supervisor. How did you handle it?

As with any interview, planning ahead is key. Here are the recommended steps for preparing and conducting a behavioral interview:

Skills & competencies

Review the position and determine the characteristics, competencies and/or skills you are most interested in. These often include, but are not limited to:

  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Creativity/innovation
  • Strengths/weaknesses
  • Decision making
  • Goal setting
  • Flexibility/adaptability
  • Integrity/honesty
  • Time management/organization
  • Leadership/initiative
  • Teamwork

Base questions on required skills

Develop your questions so that they relate to the skills identified for the position. For example:

Skill: Leadership/initiative

  • Question: Describe a decision you made that was unpopular and how you handled implementing it.

Skill: Communication

  • Question: Give me a specific example of a time when you had to deal with an upset customer.

Skill: Goal setting

  • Question: Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
  • Question: Did you ever not meet your goals? Why?

Rate candidates on an equal scale

Determine your rating scale. The interviewers need to have an idea of what they should be listening for and have a method of comparing them to other candidates. For example, rate the candidate’s on a scale of 1-10 where the numbers mean the following:

  • 10 – What is the best possible answer from a highly qualified candidate?
  • 5 – What is an acceptable answer from a qualified candidate?
  • 1 – What is a poor response from someone who has little or no knowledge of the skills required for the job?

Remain consistent. Use the same list of questions for each candidate and make sure each interviewer uses the same rating scale. This not only helps you make better comparisons between candidates, it helps all the interviewers to stay on the same page and judge all candidates fairly and equally.

Remember the basics

Following these steps is a great start to conducting a successful behavioral interview, but it’s not always enough: Make sure to always stick to the basics!

  • Listen carefully
  • Dress appropriately
  • Be on time
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Demonstrate proper posture
  • Be enthusiastic about your company and the opportunity!
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