So what is behavioral interviewing? It is a structured interview process where questions are focused on inquiring about a candidate’s past performance.
“The single best predictor of a candidate’s future job performance is his or her past job behavior.”
“How do we know this is true? Because it’s been proved in thousands of actual job situations for more than two decades. Interviews that probe for past behavior have been found to be more reliable than ones that focus on personality traits, such as ‘I’m dependable,’ or ‘I’m hardworking,’ or even, ‘You can count on me.’ And hiring decisions based on actual behavior are far more accurate than those based on gut feeling.”
“What many successful interviewers have found is that the way in which a person handled a specific situation in the past gives you valid information about how that person will approach similar situations in the future. If a person worked well with customers in the past, he or she will most likely be effective with customers in the future. If the person has had trouble communicating well in the past, you can predict that he or she will continue to have communication problems in the future.”
“This is the foundation for behavior-based interviewing. Once you understand this concept, you can plan to ask the kinds of questions that will give you the information you need to make good hiring decisions.”
– Excerpts from the video, “Interviewing: More than a Gut Feeling,” Richard S. Deems, Ph.D.
So what types of behavioral interviewing questions should you ask? It depends on the skills you’re trying to assess. However, here are some common skill sets that are important across a variety of positions and fields. These questions should give you an idea of the types of questions you should be asking to weed out that truly “great fit” candidate!
- Give me a specific example of a time when a co-worker criticized your work in front of others. How did you respond? How has that event shaped the way you communicate with others?
- In your past interactions, how do you ensure that someone understands what you are saying?
- Tell me about a time when you had to present complex information.
- Tell me about a time in which you had to use your written communication skills in order to get across an important point.
- Give me an example of a time you had to make a difficult decision.
- Describe a specific problem you solved for your employer. How did you approach the problem? What role did others play? What was the outcome?
- Give me an example of when taking your time to make a decision paid off?
Planning and Organization
- Describe a situation when you had many projects due at the same time. What steps did you take to get them all done?
- How do you determine priorities in scheduling your time? Give me an example.
- We’ve all been in situations where something just “slipped through the cracks.” Tell me about a time when this happened to you and how you handled it?
- Describe a time where you were faced with problems or stresses that tested your coping skills.
- Describe a time when you put your own goals aside to help a co-worker understand a task. How did you assist him? What was the result?
- Tell me about a time when you had to drop everything and focus your attention on a new task. What did you do and how did it affect you?
- Tell me about a time when you influenced the outcome of a project by taking a leadership role.
- Give me an example of when you involved others in making a decision.
- Think about an employee you hired for your team and tell me how you helped this person assimilate into his/her job duties and the team.
- Tell me about a time when you failed to meet a deadline. What thing did you fail to do? What were the repercussions? What did you learn?
- Tell me about a time when you were particularly effective on prioritizing tasks and completing a project on schedule.
These are just sample questions you might ask. However, I hope they give you an idea of how to phrase a behavioral-based question. Now, your task is to go back and assess the position for which you’re hiring AND identify key competencies and commitment (attitude/value) elements that will ensure success, and write behavioral-based questions that will help you find that “right fit” employee!