Behavioral Interviews: FAQs

By Adam Robinson,
July 10, 2012

Are you sick of hearing about behavioral interviews yet? You see the interviewing trend everywhere, from tradeshows, to boardroom meetings, and all the way back to your daily blog reading (hello!) But ask yourself this: do you truly know what behavioral interviews are?

Luckily, we’re here to help. For those of you that need to catch up on the trend, here are frequently-asked-questions and answers related to behavioral interviewing courtesy of Hireology’s own, Product Development Director: Margot Baill.

What are Behavioral Interviews?

Baill defines behavioral interviewing as a style of interviewing where the interviewer asks pointed questions about the candidate’s past behaviors and experiences in order to predict how they might behave in the future. Get it? What your job candidates did in the past is likely to predict how they will perform similar tasks in your job. 

Baill explains that a good behavioral interviewer should note the candidate’s present behavior’s as well, in order to fully predict success in the job. 

What questions should be asked during a behavioral interview?

The questions asked during a behavioral interview are key to finding the most effective candidate! Baill says there are 2 ways to develop your interview questions:

1. Base the questions on the tasks: Analyze the job you are hiring for. Develop your questions around the job’s most important tasks, and format the questions with this phrase: ‘Tell me about a time when youÉ’ For example: If you are hiring a Sales Manager and the job calls for making cold calls, you might ask the following question to your job candidates. ‘Tell me about a time when you had to make cold calls.’

2. Base the questions on the competencies required do accomplish the tasks: take a look at your top performers in your company and determine what actions they’re taking that are different from what the average or low performers are doing (i.e. taking on leadership activities, staying late, staying positive) and think about what competencies would make someone likely to do those things: In short, turn the behaviors you’re looking for into competencies. For example: if your top sales performer staying late every night, you would ask your job candidates ‘Describe a time that best demonstrates your persistence.’  

What is the difference between “Regular” Interviews and “Behavioral Interviews?”

Some of you are curious what the difference is between the two interviewing techniques. In traditional interviews, candidates are asked straight-forward questions that are not necessarily related to their behaviors, and are not asking about their past actions. Questions like: “What are your strengths and weaknesses,” and “what classes did you take in college?”

How Should An Interviewer Prepare?

A second opinion never hurts! Baill recommends asking other team members to join you on the interview so that one person can focus on asking questions and the other can notate the candidates responses while scoring. That way, you can debrief about the candidate and discuss the scores. Be sure to review the desired responses to each interview question before the interview so you know what you’re looking for.

How Should a Behavioral Interview be Conducted?

The most important part of this entire post is as follows: when you conduct a behavioral interview DON’T FORGET to take notes while the candidate is speaking. Rereading a candidate’s answers after the interview will help you score the interview and that’s the only way to REALLY know who will be most successful in the position.

Baill also stresses that scoring the interview immediately after is important while the interview is fresh on your mind. If you don’t have a scoring tool for interviewing you can start your free trial of Hireology (which scores the interviews for you!) today. With a little research and little help from these questions you should be able to begin behavioral interviewing in the future.

Once you hire those all-star candidates, learn how to keep them around with our guide to retaining great employees. 

About the Author

Adam co-founded Hireology with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship, donating time to a number of organizations that support the entrepreneurial cause. Adam completed his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

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