The purpose of an interview is to assess if a candidate would be a good fit for the job.
Traditional interview questions, however, are mostly based on an applicant’s resume. They focus on the applicant’s education, work history, technical skills. But they provide little insight into how a particular candidate will use that life experience to handle the responsibilities and challenges of the role being discussed.
A more effective technique to assess applicants fairly would be to:
- Conduct structured interviews, and
- Include behavioural questions in the interview questionnaire
What is behavioural interviewing?
Behavioural interviewing is the strategy of asking open-ended questions about specific situations or challenges that a candidate may have faced in the past.
The purpose is to draw out real-life examples where the candidate effectively handled a work issue to get an idea of how they are likely to deal with such crises in the future. Their response may help you gauge if they’d be a good fit for the role and your work culture.
For instance, say you ask the question, “Did you ever have to work on several projects at once? How did you handle it?” An answer to this question would give you a clearer idea of the candidate’s time management and organizational skills than if they were to simply state that they possess these qualities.
What are the benefits of asking behavioural questions?
Behaviour-based interview questions are useful in many ways. They:
Help draw out real-life experiences
There is no way of knowing whether a candidate possesses all the skills listed on their resume. Applicants may include certain skills just to match the job posting. However, it is much harder to make up scenarios during the interview of work challenges they dealt with in the past.
You get a better idea of a candidate’s skill set when they are able to offer proof of how they used those skills to handle problems in previous jobs.
Offer insight into a candidate’s personality
Answers to behaviour-based questions (for e.g., resolving work disagreements, handling difficult customers, learning from mistakes, etc.) also reveal more about a candidate’s thought process, work ethic and personality.
Can be customized for different roles
Unlike traditional interview questions, you can customize behaviour-based questions for the job at hand. For instance, if you are interviewing for a position that requires customer interaction, you may want to pose questions about the candidate’s experience of handling difficult customers.
If collaborating with colleagues is key to a role, you may want to ask about experience of having worked on group projects.
Put the candidate at ease
Behavioural questions allow the interview to become a conversation. The candidate is no longer spouting prepared answers but sharing real-life examples of their past accomplishments or learning curves. Not only will they be more at ease, but they’ll be also more likely to volunteer details that’ll help you make a better assessment.
How do I come up with effective behavioural questions?
You must phrase behavioural questions with clarity and care.
Ask yourself: What quality am I trying to measure through my question? Do I want to learn more about the candidate’s problem-solving skills or persuasive skills?
Is my question open-ended so that the candidate can respond with examples and explain how they possess this skill?
A popular method of creating behavioural interview questions is the STAR model. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result.
Make sure your question covers the:
- Situation for the behaviour (Tell me about a time when/describe a situation where/ give an example of when)
- Task that had to be completed (you had to deal with a difficult customer/manage several projects/make a major client presentation)
- Action the candidate took (What did you do? how did you handle it?)
- Result of that action. (What was the result? /what did you learn from it?/ would you handle the issue differently today)
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