Why Interview Questions About Behavior Matter

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Why Interview Questions About Behavior Matter

Cali walks into the conference room and announces, “Well, we all know which candidate is best. Let’s not meet again. We know Connie can do the job, so let’s hire her.”

Karla responds, “Yeah, Cali, you’re right. Connie really overshadowed the others. There’s no question about that.” Pete adds, “She has all the credentials we want and I liked her, too. She’s got my vote.”

You are perplexed. You liked Connie and found her capable and intelligent. However, when you asked Connie to explain how she handles conflict, she said, “Oh, I rely on my good interpersonal skills. That always works for me.”

When you probed Connie for more information about her good interpersonal skills, she did not provide any examples. Connie’s responses were vague and lacked depth. You could not get her past jargon. You began to wonder about Connie’s real job experiences and how they fit at your company.

Everyone turns to you. Cali says, “So, hey, Patrick, what do you think about Connie? Can we make the decision to hire her unanimous?

If you were Patrick, how would you respond?

Most of us know what questions not to ask. But what questions should you be asking? A successful interview occurs when you ask behavioral questions about the most important job-related skills and competencies.

For each behavioral question, the candidate should be asked to describe a situation, talk about the behavior or action taken, and conclude by telling about the results of their behavior or action. This is like rewatching a movie scene of the candidate’s past job experience.

It’s important to put together these questions ahead of time to avoid last-minute scrambling or defaulting into traditional interview questions. Ask the person who is doing the job or has done the job to be involved in preparing a list of behavioral interview questions beforehand. You want questions that evaluate the behavioral competencies of the candidate based on an analysis of the skills required for successful job performance. This prevents interviewers from assessing irrelevant knowledge or skills.

Behavioral interviewing can also reduce legal risks because all candidates are treated the same. They are asked the same questions, assessed by the same set of job competencies.

There are multiple behavioral interview questions an employer can ask a potential hire, such as teamwork questions. For example, ask your interviewee to explain a time they were faced with conflict while working on a team, and to describe how the situation was handled.

Another type of behavioral interview question relates to specific job experience. If you are interviewing someone for a customer service position, make sure to ask them about different customer service situations. You could ask your interviewee to tell you about a time they made sure a customer was satisfied with the service. Have them explain the situation in detail.

Questions about the interviewee’s time management skills are also important to know because you can learn about the ethics and values of the candidate. Ask them questions pertaining to goals they had to make for a previous employer or school project. Ask them to explain how the goals were set and met.

Consider questions such as “What are your biggest achievements and how did you fulfill those achievements?” This type of question will let you know whether the interviewee is a self-motivator or if they need that extra push.

Behavioral interviewing skills are crucial to an employer. These questions can tell you whether a person will best fit the position, minimizing the risk of a bad hire.


This post was originally published by the Association for Talent Development, on Tuesday, January 30, 2018. https://www.td.org/insights/why-interview-questions-about-behavior-matter