Hire Right: Behavioral Interviewing for Success

Sections of this topic

    Have you ever hired someone who did not live up to expectations? I’m sure many of us have at one time.

    A wrong decision can be very costly. It’s been estimated that replacing a key professional or manager can be three to five times their annual salary. Do you want to increase the odds of selecting the best person for your most critical positions?

    Then try behavioral interviewing instead of the gut-feel approach

    This is gut feeling: “Mary seems right for the job…so let’s hire her.” However, when she came on board, she didn’t perform and had to be let go. Mary may look good on paper or even interviewed well but she did not have the specific skills and traits that were needed for the job. Therefore, the hiring process started all over again.

    Now take a look at behavioral interviewing. It focuses on two very important elements of the interviewing process:

    1. Identifying the required skills and traits that are needed to be effective for the particular position.
    2. Asking the right questions to obtain a behavioral example of a specific skill or a specific trait you are looking for.

    The rationale for asking for behavioral examples is the notion that the best predictor of what individuals will do in the future is what they have done in the past. Therefore, you ask an applicant to describe a specific event that shows in detail how she did something or handled a problem, or dealt with a specific situation.

    Behavioral example questions typically start out with the following phrases to encourage the person to talk about their experiences in a non-threatening manner.

    • “Tell me about a time when….”
    • “Give me an example of….”
    • “How did you….?”

    Note how the following question has been rephrased so that it will elicit an answer that explains how the person dealt with a specific situation.

    Original: “Have you had experience training new supervisors?”
    Revised: “Tell me about a time when you had to hire and train a new supervisor. How did you go about it? Would you do anything differently?”

    Management Success Tip

    Remember, the purpose of the interview is to obtain accurate information for selecting the best person for the job. Behavioral interviewing is a technique that focuses on an applicant’s skills and traits not on a manager’s gut impressions.

    Do you want to develop your Management Smarts?