If you are a business owner, executive, hiring manager, or human resource professional, chances are you have heard the term or are familiar with Behavioral Interviewing (BI).
Many companies are using BI to help them identify the best candidates during their interview process for key talent at their company. The reasons to use BI are many, but at heart, companies are using it since it is a great way to identify the best candidates that can help their companies grow.
What is it?
BI is a job interviewing technique that poses scenario type questions to candidates compelling them to answer based upon how they acted in a specific situation in the past. The premise behind BI is grounded in the theory that the most accurate predictor of a person’s future performance is their past performance. BI questions are developed to create a window into how a candidate has acted in the past so the interviewer can reasonably predict how the candidate will act in the future.
Why is it different than a traditional interview?
Traditional interview methods and questions typically include canned and hypothetical questions which are easy to prepare for by the candidate and usually uncover limited information. Examples include:
- Tell me about yourself?
- Where do you expect to be in 5 years?
- Why are you interested in this job?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
While the interviewer may be able to obtain information from these answers they likely will not gain any insight on how the person has actually reacted in different situations in the past, or how they may act if confronted with a similar situation in the future. Also, virtually all interview preparation by candidates is geared toward answering these questions so most, if not all, candidates are prepared with stock responses to these questions.
BI questions attempt to target a specific skill or competency that is needed in the position and targets the way the candidate has handled the position in the past. The scenario is unique and is developed specifically for the position, and as a result is not as easy to prepare for by the candidate.
How to develop BI questions & evaluate results
We develop BI questions by looking at the specific competencies required out of a particular role and then crafting scenario based questions that will provide insight into those competencies for the candidates.
For example, if the position being hired is a sales manager and you want to gain a window into the candidate’s ability to generate new sales, you might ask the following questions:
- Tell me about your previous success in building a customer base from scratch. What steps did you take to build the base? What was the result?
- Describe a creative way in which you convinced a resistant customer to buy from you? What was the result?
- Tell me about a rejection you have received in the past when selling a product or service. How did you overcome it?
If you are trying to determine how a person works within a team you could ask the following:
- Tell me about a time when you worked with a colleague who was not doing their share of the work. How did you handle it? What was the result?
- Describe a time when you were involved in a team project that ran into problems. What was your role on the team? How did you lead the group?
- Tell me about a time when you had to settle a dispute between team members. How did you go about identifying the issues? What was the result?
When asking BI questions, it’s important to let the candidate do most of the talking so you can obtain as much information and insight as possible into how a person may handle a specific situation. Your role is to lead, listen and interpret. In analyzing candidate responses it’s important to take notes, to listen to the candidate’s tone, and evaluate whether the candidate is genuine in answering your questions. If the candidate has long pauses, does not look at you or address you directly, takes excessive time in answering your questions, or simply can’t recall instances that are relatable, those red flags should give you pause on moving the candidate forward in the process.
Is it for you?
BI can be used by any company for any position, but preparation is critical, and you must commit to the process. To get great results out of a BI process it is important to:
- Invest the time up front to identify the desired competencies for the position.
- Develop specific BI questions that target those competencies, and
- Develop a way to measure and evaluate those responses for each candidate.
If you think you would like to try BI to hire but aren’t sure where to start, give us a call – we’d be happy to help you navigate the process and learn how to master behavioral interviewing. You may just find a better way to hire great people for your company.