Ah, the behavioral-based interview; what a beautiful thing it is! It has been getting more and more praise and attention over the years, and nowadays, forms at least a part of every interview process out there.
But what is it that makes it so great? And why has it been getting so much praise and attention? Let’s start with a short definition to get us off on the right foot before we dig into the reasons why we love the behavioral-based interview.
I’m sure you’ve all heard about it, I’m also sure you all kind of know what it means, right? But just to clear the air, a behavioral-based interview is an interview (usually for recruitment) that aims to identify a candidate’s past experiences in certain situations, under the premise that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.
Some example of behavioral-based interview questions include:
Regardless of your location, market, industry, or profession, chances are you’ve had to interview a candidate at some point in your career. Granted, some of us do it more often than others, some got formal training and education, and some just learned from experience.
In general, the questions usually are related to overcoming of challenges, the achievement of goals, or how a certain task was carried out.
An interview can be entirely behavioral-based, or only partly, and of course, as with any other practice in the world, has its strengths and its weaknesses. Despite its shortcomings, however, we still love the behavioral-based interview, and I’m going to tell you why you should, too!
Sure, you have their resume and they were referred to you by a very good reference, but what do you really know about the candidate you’re interviewing?
Asking behavioral-based interview questions allows you to understand the candidate a little better; their motivations, how they take on challenges, how they work within a team, and how they hold up under pressure.
Of course, you won’t be able to understand what they’re all about from one situation and one example, so make sure to address an issue with more than one question to find a consistent pattern. This is the time to let your creative side shine! You might even want to consider a hiring test to help you prepare.
We all know that person who can talk for hours when asked a simple question. We also all know that person who answers questions with a simple, concise, to-the-point answer, without any elaboration. Ideally, you wouldn’t get such an extreme candidate, but you never know what potential is hiding behind their talkative or discreet exterior.
Behavioral-based interview questions really allow you to dig a little deeper. Because they’re open-ended questions, it allows the candidate to tell you about the situation, the context, and the reasons why the results were what they were.
Just make sure you redirect the candidate to the question if they seem to have drifted off topic, and be sure to probe the more discreet candidates to get a little more insight on the circumstances.
I’m sure by now you’ve all heard of personality tests in businesses. Their popularity keeps on rising, and they are quite the innovative way to get to know the candidates in front of you, without really knowing them. After all, we already interview them to try and get to know them, but sometimes, that’s not enough.
What if you have a recent graduate with no previous work experience in the field? What about a person who is switching fields of work? And what about the great employee who is looking for a promotion to a managerial position without ever having to actually manage people?
We all had to start somewhere. We weren’t born with degrees and 5+ years of experience. So how can you evaluate these candidates? With behavioral-based interview questions, of course!
Behavioral-based interview questions are not as specific as other interview questions, and allow a candidate to draw on their own unique experiences depending on their pasts.
Take this question, for example: “Tell me about a time when you weren’t certain you made the right decision and then had it openly challenged. What did you do?” In this case, while the question is the same, the recent graduate will probably tell you about his experience with a group project during school, while the candidate switching fields will tell you about her experiences in a previous job, and the candidate looking for a promotion will tell you a story about being on the committee of a non-profit organization.
As already stated, the behavioral-based interview is not perfect, so here are a few pointers to make sure you’re doing it right:
Recruitment and selection is one of the most important tasks of human resources management. Not only is it crucial for the company’s success, but it could also save it a lot of money! In fact, the cost of a bad hire can range anywhere from 30% to over 200% of the employee’s annual salary; depending on the prominence of the position in question.
Just as with everything else in business (and life!), there is the good, the bad, and the ugly. Nothing is perfect, but if you’re careful, you can get most of the good without having to deal with a lot of the bad and ugly of interview mistakes! Why not start with an interview checklist to make sure you’re on the right path?