Have you ever wished you had a crystal ball that would tell you BEFORE you hired a candidate if they were actually going to be a good fit?  Have you ever scratched your head AFTER you made a bad hiring decision, and wished you never even hired an employee in the first place?

Making sure you have the right person, in the right position, at the right time, takes much more than a crystal ball.  It takes knowledge of effective interviewing skills, and the ability to implement them.

One of the most effective approaches for interviewing is called Behavioral Interviewing.  It works off the premise that future behavior is best predicted by past behavior.  To be sure that a candidate has the capabilities needed to perform the job, you need some degree of proof that they have demonstrated these capabilities in the past.  A behavioral interview is a series of open-ended questions that help you obtain a good picture of a person’s capabilities in previous positions.

Preparation before the interview is essential.  To prepare for a behavioral interview, first identify the key competencies needed in the position.  Many people tend to focus primarily on the technical skills needed.  However, performance skills are also incredibly important competencies for success.  Examples of performance skills include problem solving, communication, analytical thinking, results-orientation, etc.

Once you have gathered information regarding all the skills required for the position, it is important to prepare a list of behavioral-based interview questions designed to critique the candidates past performance around those competencies.   Most behavior based interview questions ask the candidate to provide detailed information regarding:

  • A past situation where they demonstrated those skills
  • The behavior that the candidate performed
  • The outcome of that behavior

An example of a behavior-based question designed to assess the competency of effective time management would be:  “Tell me about a time when you were faced with a number of priorities to accomplish in a relatively short time frame.”

Then the interviewer would probe deeper by asking

  • “What kinds of things did you consider?”
  • “How did you respond to the pressure?”
  • “What was the result?”

The interviewer can gain great insight into the candidate’s capabilities as the candidate is asked to provide a specific, detailed picture of his or her performance in a past situation.

As a result, a more objective assessment of the candidate’s strengths and development needs can be achieved.  Although it may not be a crystal ball, it provides a much higher likelihood of making more informed hiring decisions.

Probes are additional open-ended questions that encourage the candidate to delve more deeply into the situation they are describing and provide more detailed information on the key areas of concern:

  • The Situation
  • The Behavior (that the candidate performed)
  • The Outcome

Take the time to prepare your behavioral interviewing questions before you start interviewing, and your questions will provide greater insight into each candidate. Save the behavioral interviewing questions you ask, as you can use them again when interviewing another candidate for the same position!

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