Behavioral Interviews: What Hiring Managers Need to Ask

4-Things-to-Ask-Candidates

You’ve probably heard the saying, “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” This is especially true in the staffing world. Hiring Managers want to know how a candidate is likely to perform on the job in six months—but frequently, they ask the wrong kinds of questions and limit their interviewing effectiveness.

Many Hiring Managers focus on hypothetical situational questions, such as, “how would you react to this situation?” or “what would you do if that happened?” In each of these scenarios, the interviewee has little accountability, and can make up the best answer to conform to what they think the interviewer wants to hear. Candidates are used to these typical job interview questions and have canned responses at the ready. These questions elicit “best answer” responses…and do not reflect how the prospective candidate would actually respond to a given situation.

Applying behavioral interviewing, Hiring Managers aim to identify firsthand events, skills and abilities that can help to determine the candidate’s true potential for success. In a behavioral interview, questions are based on a candidate’s past experiences and, therefore, interviewers are able to “pick it apart,” gaining further insight. Hiring Managers can ask, “why did you do that in that past situation?” or “tell me how you came to that conclusion” and delve into specifics. These pointed questions uncover past behaviors and reactions, leading the interviewer to stronger conclusions on how those past behaviors will affect the candidate’s future potential. These atypical questions force candidates to respond more honestly and not give “best” answers.

Before you ask behavior-based questions in an interview, it’s important to prep ahead of time and decide what qualities are most important to the position and you—whether it’s teamwork, critical thinking, interaction with clients, communication, or motivation. Use these qualities to shape your questions. If teamwork is an important aspect of the job, frame questions such as, “Tell me about a time when you needed to collaborate with others and someone didn’t do their part. How did you handle this?” Think of behavioral questions as having an ask (“tell me about a time”), a situation (“when you needed to collaborate with others”), and a complication (“and someone didn’t do their part”). These building blocks help ensure that you won’t get rehearsed answers.

So the next time you sit down to perform an interview, consider adding some pointed behavioral questions to your mix…and get to the heart of the candidate’s professional disposition.

Other samples to get you started:

• “Describe how you accomplished your greatest success last year and the largest roadblock you had to overcome.”
• “Give me an example of how you mentored a team member through a stressful work situation.”
• “Walk me through how you closed a large deal with a customer who was not at first interested in your company’s offerings.”
• “Tell me about a time when you had to engage an angry customer and your manager was not available to help.”

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