Selecting the best candidate for your job is no easy task. Candidates, especially college students and those working with recruiters and outplacement agencies, are prepped to answer your questions like never before.

They anticipate the most likely questions, and prepare the answer they “know” you need to hear. The problem is their prepped responses don’t get you the information you need to make a go/no-go decision on the candidate. Isn’t that what you need to fill that job and move on to your other responsibilities?

Behavioral Based Interviews, when done well, collect the details you need. They elicit information that better identifies how someone will act based on what they have done in similar situations in the past.

With some prep and practice, this type of interview will become a staple in your well-thought-out selection process.

How do you conduct a behavioral based interview?

[Tweet “Dig in and get the information you need with Behavioral Based Interview skills.”]

The Do’s of a behavior based interview:

  • Set the stage for the information you need. At the beginning of your interview, state, “I’m going to ask you a series of questions about specific situations from your past. I’m looking to hear the context, what you did, and the outcome. I will stop and redirect you if necessary.”
  • Begin your questions with: “Share with me a situation where you…” or “Please explain a situation when…”
  • Redirect, refocus, and ask for specifics. Ignore what they would, could, or should’ve done. Refocus the candidate to explain what they DID. Ask for details to prove it’s a real situation.
  • Make the time for the right answers. It may take longer than typical interviews, so plan for the time it takes to get the information you need.
  • Let them think it through by confirming, “Take your time to think of a specific situation.”
  • Seek the background, actions they took, and the result (the BAR).

The Don’ts of a behavior based interview:

  • Be afraid to interrupt responses that are not specific in order to get them back to the real story.
  • Fill in parts of the story for them. Instead, keep prodding them with additional requests such as: “Tell me more about what you did.”, or “Who else was involved when you say ‘we?’”, or even, “How did you get to that point?”
  • Answer for them and lead them to what you want to hear.
  • Start too late in the selection process. Behavioral interview questions should be asked early-on; if started later, you can give too much information about what you seek and they may adjust their answers accordingly. Ask behavioral questions in your first meeting.

Dig In

That’s how you interview with a behavioral based focus. Now, on to the “what” of the questions. What should you ask?

Here are 10 behavior based interview questions that your candidates may have never heard before:

  1. Please share an example of a new responsibility you were assigned for which you had no experience. How did you approach the situation? What was the outcome?
  2. What specifically have you done to improve your performance in the past year?
  3. Tell me about a project you initiated. What did you do? Why? What was the outcome? How did you measure success?
  4. Tell me about a company policy or rule that you simply don’t agree with. What is the policy or rule? Why do you not agree with it? To what degree have you supported it? What was the result?
  5. Uncertainty is constant in organizations. Tell me about a time when you needed to remain supportive and productive during times of uncertainty. What was the situation? How did you address it? What was the outcome?
  6. Describe your process for establishing goals. How do you establish them? What is your approach to achieving them? What goals do you have in writing right now? What is the status of each?
  7. Share with me an example of when you had an outcome to achieve and you did not have any direction on how to achieve it. What did you do? What was the end result?
  8. Tell me about a time when it was necessary to admit to others that you had made a mistake.
  9. Describe the last time you had a miscommunication with someone at work. What happened? What information was needed?
  10. Please share with me an example of the last concern or objection you heard. What was the specific concern or objection? What is the first thing you responded to? Then what?

[Tweet “Behavioral Based Interviews identify how the candidate will act in certain scenarios.”]

See the pattern of focusing on specifics? Yet we have to be careful we are collecting relevant information. Review this question:

Tell me about a specific time when you remained calm during a stressful situation.

It appears behavioral based, but a question phrased this way tells the candidate to think of a situation where they did what you want (remained calm) versus what they did in the last or several stressful situations. It won’t help you identify what they do most often or most recently. Instead rephrase the question:

Tell me about a specific stressful situation you recently experienced.

The bottom line:

For the most effective behavioral based interview: Make the time to prepare, be patient, and dig for the information you need to make the best go/no-go decision for your open position.

What about you? What are some other behavior based interview questions you have found to be helpful?

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