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Behavioral job interviews offer a glimpse of what could be




Once an employer identifies a prospect for an open position and sets up an interview, another great challenge arises: How do you effectively use the interview to determine whether this person is right for your organization?

One way is behavioral interviewing — a technique in which you frame your questions to candidates to elicit real-world stories from previous work experience. The answers your interviewees give can offer a glimpse of what could be.

Examples to consider

It’s important to structure your questions so that the candidate can’t reply with only a “yes” or “no” answer. In some cases, your “questions” might not literally be questions.

For example, if you’re looking for a customer service rep, you could say, “Tell me about a time you’ve had to handle a dissatisfied customer.” Look for detailed responses that appear honest and heartfelt.

Or let’s say the open position is for a manager or executive. You might ask something along the lines of, “Talk about a situation in which you were asked to do something or tackle a strategic objective that tested your personal values. How did you react? What was the ultimate result?” Listen for how the candidate describes his or her value system and what steps he or she took to resolve the situation.

Best practices

When coming up with behavioral interview questions, begin with the job description. (If it hasn’t been updated in a while, you may want to do that first.) Be sure the queries you come up with are relevant to the duties and skills listed in the description, as well as the challenges the candidate will face if hired and the culture of your organization. To keep the interview from going too long, devise, say, three to five questions that will offer the most insight.

Instruct your managers to use identical language and present the questions in the same order to interviewees. Consistency is key when trying to weigh applicants’ responses against one another.

More revealing

Behavioral interviews may take a little more preparation than a more ad hoc, impromptu approach. But many employers believe these types of questions reveal much more about how an employee will perform when on the job. Our firm can provide more information and ideas.

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