If you have ever been on an interview, chances are you have been asked a behavioral interview question. Behavior interviewing is a style of interviewing that best predicts how the interviewee will act in specific situations. Simply stated, past performance indicates future performance. There are a variety of interview techniques and this is just one style that can help select a candidate that matches the performance needs of a position as well as a cultural fit on both the team and within the organization.
Behavioral interview questions are generally more investigative and help to elaborate on a candidate’s past experiences by asking for specific examples on how they have handled past situations. Answers to these types of questions should demonstrate the behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities that would indicate how they would handle future situations within your organization. It is a more structured style of interviewing and can take slightly more planning, but can be crucial in defending against allegations of discrimination in hiring and selection.
Regardless of what interview method you chose to use, select questions that indicate what you are looking for in a candidate. This should reflect what competencies are most important to your organization. Most organizations have a set of competencies, or values, as part of their culture, goals and strategic direction. Some of the most common behavioral interview questions reflect these attributes:
● Leadership Style and Ability
● Teamwork and Interpersonal Skills
● Motivation and Initiative
● Communication Skills
● Problem Solving
● Time Management
● Conflict Management
● Ethics and Values
● Problem Solving
Select a few questions that go along with each core value that has been identified by your organization. To be most effective and fair, questions should be asked to every candidate in the same order. Ask yourself what behaviors are strategically critical to the organization? What KSAOs (knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics) are important to this position and the overall organization? Competency-based questions can also be leveraged across HR and other business systems to improve overall employee performance by defining what employees need to do to produce results to be successful.
The S.T.A.R. (Situation, Task, Action, Results) method is a useful and popular tool that aids in measuring candidates’ responses.
● Situation: What situation was the candidate in? How did the situation come about and who was involved?
● Task: What task did the candidate need to accomplish? What was their role?
● Action: What actions were taken in order to complete the task. What steps were taken to resolve the issue?
● Results: What were the results of those actions? Did results differ from what they expected?
Responses to behavioral interview questions are generally in the form of a short story explaining the “how” and “why” in their answer touching on each situation, task, action and result. This is where the probing questions come into play to help pull the details out of the story elaborating on achievements, response, and decision making. Probing questions can be used when initial answers are vague or do not address the lead question. These types of questions do not need to be developed in advance and vary based on the candidate and conversation. Keep probing questions open-ended to avoid directing a candidate towards a desired response. Here are a few examples:
● I’m not quite sure I understood. Could you please tell me more about that?
● Could you give me some examples?
● You mentioned ‘X,’ could you tell me more about that?
● You just explained ‘X, Can you tell me about ‘Y.’
There is a lot that can be said on how to develop and successfully implement behavioral interviewing, and this is just a brief summary. Check out the SHRM (society for human resources management) website for an in-depth overview. There are a variety of free tools and resources available to create interview guidelines that best suit your organization’s needs.