The Secret to Hiring Great Candidates: Behavioral Interviews

What is a Behavioral Based Interview?

A behavioral based interview is when a candidate is prompted to provide comprehensive information regarding his or her actions and behaviors during specific employment-related situations. The theory behind this style of interview is that the best predictor of future behavior is to look at past behavior. You, the interviewer, will be looking for detailed, specific examples for each question asked.

Traditional Interview vs. Behavioral Interview

In a traditional interview, a candidate is asked straight forward questions and, depending on the type of question, will most likely know what information the interviewer is looking for and will answer appropriately. In behavioral interviews, there is no right or wrong answer.  Instead of asking speculative scenario-based questions, you are inquiring about the candidates actual past behavior and the resulting effects.

STAR Format                                                                       

The STAR format is configured to help you, the interviewer, evaluate a candidate’s answers:

S/T – What was the SITUATION/TASK the candidate chose to discuss? Did they provide relevant details? (When? Where? Who was involved?  What was the goal?)

A –  What were their ACTIONS?  If they were part of a team, did they describe both the team’s actions as well as their individual actions and contributions? Did they take credit for their work? What specifically did they do and/or accomplish?  What were the steps and/or process they followed while working on this specific task?

R –  What were the RESULTS of their actions?  This is the part most candidates forget to include!  Did they quantify their results?  Did they receive any type of award or recognition?  What was the end result?

Common behavioral based interview questions:

  • Describe a situation when you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way.
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  • Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and you were able to meet or achieve that goal.
  • Tell me about a time when you used your presentation skills to influence someone’s opinion.
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  • Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
  • What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
  • Tell me about a difficult decision you’ve had to make in the last year.
  • Give me an example of a time when you tried to accomplish something and failed.
  • Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.
  • Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
  • Tell me about a time when you delegated a project effectively.
  • Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem.
  • Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
  • Describe a time when you set your sights too high (or too low).