Behavioral Interviewing: Getting to the right hiring decision

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Hiring decisions are some of the most important decisions companies make.  A bad hiring decision not only affects the bottom-line but also morale.  More and more companies are adopting behavioral interviewing models into their hiring process to aid in better hiring decisions.   The concept of behavioral interviewing is basically the candidate’s past performance/behaviors in employment situations is how the candidate will perform in future employment situations.  Training your hiring managers in proper behavioral interviewing techniques will allow them to execute a stronger interview process and result in better hiring decisions.  Often, hiring decisions are made on gut instinct or falling into the trap of hiring someone just like them rather than a true evaluation of the candidate and the organizational need.

Some things to consider when determining the best hire are:

    • What are the complementary skills needed to strengthen your team?
    • What type of employee will fit both your company culture and the sub-culture within your team?  – Skills are trainable cultural fit is not.
    • What types of behaviors, competencies, and skills are required to be successful in the position? – Take the time to define and set the expectations in the interview.
    • What is the interview process? – A defined interview process keeps things moving smoothly and the candidate will know what to expect.

There is countless information on the internet regarding behavioral interviewing.  However, here are a few tips I was taught in which I use as a rule of thumb:

  1. Ask questions to learn about specific past experience and “Stay Out of the Would’s”!  Asking questions with “would” is asking them to predict how they would react or behave vs. understanding a specific situation.  Remember the entire concept of behavioral interviewing is that past performance is the best predictor of future performance so it is important to discuss their past performance and not asking them to predict how they “would” perform in a situation.
  2. Don’t be afraid to continue to probe and get more details on an answer you are given.  It is difficult for a candidate to provide a high level of detail on activities they have not actually performed.  Probing questions like, “tell me more about that” or “what did you do then” can aid in obtaining more detailed answers.
  3. Research what behaviors, competencies, and skills are needed and develop behavioral interview questions that will help evaluate those needs.  It never hurts to test the questions on a couple of people to determine if you are getting the desired result.
  4. Remember the acronym S-A-R (Situation, Action, Result) when developing questions and listening to the candidates responses to your questions.  Be sure you understand the situation clearly, what action was taken, and what the end result was.  If not, follow up with additional questions until you do.
  5. Test out your interview questions to ensure you are getting what you are looking for.  You may have to tweak your questions a few times.

Behavioral interviewing is a great tool in the interview process.  It will help you better understand your candidate, how they are motived, and the environments in which they will thrive as a top performer.

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