Are you asking the right questions?
Updated: Feb 27
Understanding Behavioral Interviewing Techniques
Do questions that start with, "Tell me about a time when…" really provide insight during an interview? These and similar questions are known as behavioral interview questions, and they are critical for evaluating candidates. So, what are the questions you should be asking candidates, and what answers should you want to hear?
What is Behavioral Interviewing
The concept of behavioral interviewing comes from the idea that what a candidate has done in the past is a good indicator of what they will do in the future. We should evaluate candidates not just on their job title or duties but on examples of how they have demonstrated behaviors, skills, and knowledge.
We've all been in interviews that seem to go nowhere. The interviewer asks the dreaded “so walk me through your resume,” or they ask hypothetical questions, and the candidate tells them what they think the interviewer wants to hear. This happens with jobs at all levels of the organization. With behavioral interviewing, we ask open-ended questions to see not only the actual answer but how the candidate thinks on their feet.
Behavioral questions are not to be confused with gotcha questions. We have all heard the off-the-wall questions that have no business-related answer. "If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?" A behavioral interview question should always be relevant to the job and provide insight into the candidate's qualifications.
Sample Behavioral Interview Questions
While behavioral questions are conceptual, they're also very practical. There are some specific behavioral questions for management and C-suite roles that can help you get to the core of what each candidate brings to the table. Here are some samples.
· What values do you have as a leader, and how do you showcase them?
· Tell me about a time you've acted as a mentor or coach for someone. How did you provide them with guidance?
· How have you measured the performance of your most recent team, department, or company?
· What percentage of your job is dedicated to strategic thinking, and what process works best for you?
· Give me an example of when you had to communicate your strategy to your team? What did you do?
· Tell me about a time when you were able to use strategic thinking to solve a recurring problem.
· Tell me about a time when you successfully grew an organization.
· Tell me about a project, product, or service that you feel particularly proud of in your career.
· Tell me about a time when you had to communicate a complex topic to someone outside of your industry?
· What kind of workplace culture do you thrive in?
· Tell me about a time when you made a positive impact on the workplace culture?
· Give me an example of when you had to collaborate with others in the company to achieve a common goal?
Behavioral Interview Answers
Each individual's answers to these questions should be specific. And while you are listening for certain cues or information that can help you make the final hiring decision, the essential part of behavioral interviewing is understanding how someone thinks on the spot. You are weeding out the candidates who are people pleasers and telling you what they think you want to hear, and mining for the gems who will be productive and innovative contributors to your team.
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