From time to time we see blog posts or articles proclaiming that the behavioral interview is dead. This couldn’t be further from the truth. To add to the frustration hiring managers face is the fact that “fad” interviews and bizarre questions bubble to the surface when people read stories about places like Google and Zappos using unique approaches to interviews. In fact, the following conversation happened just yesterday:
Me: How did your interview go?
Candidate: It was ok.
Candidate: The interviewer asked me if I’d rather eat a plate of nachos or a brownie, and if I had to choose between wearing all red or all blue, which would I choose.
Candidate: I mean, who wouldn’t choose a brownie, but what does that have to do with the job?
That last statement sums it all up. What does this have to do with getting the job. The behavioral interview takes those questions off the table because all you are doing is asking questions that ask the candidate to describe when they have performed the skills necessary to be successful on the job at another point in their work life. The mantra that behavioral interview experts repeat is, past beavior predicts future results.
The formula for making the behavioral interview is fairly simple. Start with a skill or behavior that is required on the job (handling customer complaints). Ask the candidate to tell you a story about a time when they did this (Tell me about a time when you successfully handled a customer complaint). Follow up with questions that solidify for you that they can do this (What challenges did you have to overcome to satisfy the customer? or What was the customer’s reaction?).
Once you master the formula above, it’s important for you as the hiring manager to be comfortable with silence. These types of questions require the candidate to think and process before they can answer. Often times you have to tell them that it’s ok if they have to take a couple of minutes to come up with an example, but reiterate that you really want an example. You don’t want to hear what the candidate WOULD do in this scenario, you want to hear what they DID do.
Consistent use of behavioral interviews, often combined with pre-employment assessment, will improve your chances of increasing employee retention and productivity. The key is you, the hiring manager. You still have to process the information received from man