Interviews: Mastery of the Behavior-Based Interview Format

There are a myriad of advice columns and tips directed toward job seekers as to how mastery of a job interview is possible for a candidate if he or she prepares effectively by researching the company, drafting thoughtful questions for the interviewer and ultimately, winning the job. Addressing this topic from the hiring manager’s perspective, we take a look at what types of interview questions have proven to be most predictive of an employee’s capabilities to learn as well as to perform the job duties and to foresee whether a desirable candidate will equate to a successful employee.

The goal is for organizations to hire employees that will be able to quickly apply their experience and cognitive abilities, as well as those who will provide value to the organization with their talent.  Whether an individual is brought on board as a temporary or regular employee, companies seek individuals that will ultimately be a good fit with the organization’s culture.  Hiring, onboarding and replacing employees is a costly expense for employers and by incorporating well-planned processes into the recruitment and hiring process, talent acquisition leaders are apt to make a successful match between an organization’s needs and a candidate’s skill set and personality.

Developed thirty years ago by industrial psychologists, behavioral, or competency-based interviews have rapidly grown in popularity in interview processes. Behavioral interviews focus on past performance and behaviors which will help an interviewer determine whether a candidate will be a successful employee within an organization.

The behavioral interview provides a candidate the opportunity to exhibit his or her competencies such as skills, abilities and knowledge through specific examples of prior experiences. This helps provide a basis of the candidate’s actual capabilities rather than what the interviewee believes he or she may achieve in the future.

In the behavioral interview, a job candidate will have to support his or her work ethic with real-life examples, detailing how specific situations were handled in the past.

The behavioral interview is generally not about potential scenarios; rather, it relies on real-life experiences which will help a hiring manager determine whether the candidate will be a good match for a role and how he or she may respond to the environment and tasks in the position. The following tips will assist a hiring manager in utilizing a behavioral-based interview process:

  • In order to gather valuable information during the interview process, hiring managers should utilize consistent, behavioral-based questions for all candidates interviewing for a specific role.
  • Employers should ask probing questions that cannot be responded to with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.  Specific examples should be requested.
  • “Would you handle this situation similarly in the future if presented with it again?”  The answer to this question will provide the interviewer with feedback as to whether the candidate is able to apply knowledge and utilize creative and alternative methods to improve upon processes.

An organization will typically seek skills and an educational background specific to a job’s requirements.  However, incorporating behavioral questions that require a candidate to draw on his or her past experience to demonstrate the combination of knowledge, skills and abilities required to successfully perform the job will greatly assist the employer in the candidate evaluation process. Establishing consistent interviewing processes that incorporate behavioral-based questions will help an employer develop a successful interviewing program based on  using past performance as a predictor for future behavior and, ultimately, a guideline for success.

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