How to Conduct a Behavioral Interview

You’re probably an expert at conducting interviews for your firm, but not all interviewers are created equal. There are some lines of questioning that will get you deep insight into the job candidate, and others that are tired and predictable. If you want to truly get to know your candidate, you’re going to want to master the art of the behavioral interview. With these simple tips, you can be on your way to being the most effective interviewer possible.

Go beyond the resume

The point of an interview is to become familiar with the candidate you're interviewing, their skills, experience, and behavior. Interviews are a prime opportunity for you to learn how an applicant will actually work - just by asking some key questions. Standard interview questions will simply tell you what’s already on their resume and CV. Behavioral questions – “What would you do in this situation?” – are what great interviewers focus on. They will give you valuable insight into how your candidate would operate while on the job.

Let them tell their story

By asking the right behavioral questions while interviewing, your candidate can become much like a narrator describing their own experiences and qualifications. Allowing applicants to tell you a story while conducting interviews will give you an opportunity to see how they speak and how they think when presented with specific situations and real-life scenarios.  Get to know them as they see themselves. Try to set-up questions as “Here’s the scenario you’re in. How would you handle it?” Behavioral questions should be more specific, in-depth and pointed than traditional interview questions. Here are a few examples:

  • Give an example of a time when you used logic to solve a problem.
  • Give an example of a goal you achieved and tell me how you achieved it.
  • Have you been in a difficult situation with a co-worker? How did you handle it?
  • Have you gone above and beyond the call of duty in a previous position? If so, how?

Dive into the details

After you’ve presented your applicant with a scenario and they’ve told you the story of how they’d handle it, that’s not the end.  It’s okay to pick apart their answer, seeking to discover the reasoning behind each response. Ask them about their motivations for their actions, and specifically their thought processes behind each action that they took in their story. Inquire as to how they felt about the clients in the scenario, or what they’d do if a certain detail had been changed. Before hiring anyone it’s helpful to know exactly what you can expect them to do in any given situation.

Conducting interviews may be standard procedure for you, and by focusing them around pointed behavioral questions you can get a well-rounded picture of how the potential employee will behave in the workplace. By asking more than the standard questions and focusing on the behavior of the candidate, you can be sure that you’ll be getting the best possible person for the job.



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