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Behavioral Interviewing: What Is It & Why Use It



Hiring a new employee is a lengthy and time consuming process, with the goal being to hire a candidate that has the majority, if not all, of the skills required to perform the job, but also to be the right culture fit. The last thing any of us wants to do is hire a candidate, only to find out a few weeks later that we missed the mark. While even the best recruiters and hiring managers don’t get it right 100% of the time, there are techniques that can increase those chances. According to two recent articles (A Reader’s Guide to Behavioral Interview Questions & Behavioral Interviewing Guide by Albright College), behavioral interviewing has a 55% accuracy rate versus traditional interviewing that has only a 10% accuracy rate.


What is Behavioral Interviewing?

Behavioral interviewing is the process where candidates are asked questions about their past behavior to predict how they would react in future situations. The interviewer typically asks open questions to prompt detailed responses, so they can assess the candidate's character and personality. It allows companies to look at actual experiences to learn about a potential candidate's specific skills, abilities, behaviors, and knowledge. Even more importantly, it helps companies assess whether the candidate has the right “soft skills” to fit with the company culture. 


For each hire we make at Reverie, we use the behavioral interviewing technique and we coach our clients to use it, too. 


According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), other benefits to behavioral interviewing include:

  • Providing applicants with a “realistic perspective of the job.”

  • Getting fewer vague answers from candidates.

  • Reducing risks of bias from interviewers.

  • Increasing the “perception of fairness among job candidates.”


In order to successfully perform behavioral interviews, Reverie suggests you do the following:

  1. Prepare a set of questions that require the candidate to provide specific details of previous situations. To achieve this, companies can use a technique called the STAR method, which was developed by Development Dimensions International (DDI). This method encourages candidates to describe the Situation, explain what their Task was in that situation, outline the Actions they took, and share the Result they achieved. 

  2. Create a document that lists the name of each candidate you interview, the questions you ask during each round of the interview process, notes on how the candidate answers the questions, and a rating system (such as 1 to 5) that each interviewer uses to rate how the candidate did during each round of interview. This document should be shared with and used by everyone who conducts an interview throughout the entire process, and will be the tool that you use to review the candidates, assess their performance, and determine to whom you ultimately offer the job.

  3. Be consistent and create a standard process. Ensure that everyone involved in the interview process is on the same page. This includes reviewing the interview document together, understanding the questions they will ask the candidates, knowing the qualifications and skills you are looking for in your candidate, and understanding how you will interpret answers consistently to make the best decision on who you will ultimately hire. 


Behavioral interviewing questions always ask the candidate to provide an example of how they handled a situation in their past experience versus a hypothetical question, which is focused more on how you might handle a fictitious, future situation. Behavioral questions usually begin with: ‘Give me an example’ or ‘Tell me a time.’  For example, a behavioral interview question would ask the candidate to tell the interviewer about a time when they had to complete a task with limited guidance. Whereas that same question, asked hypothetically,  would be: What would you do if you had to complete a task with limited guidance?  While the difference may seem minute, the behavioral question forces the candidate to answer that question by providing ACTUAL details on how they handled a real-life situation and the steps they took to address it.  Providing the details of how the candidate handled various situations in their past work, helps the interviewer to learn more about the candidate's core skills and personal qualities that matter in every position, such as problem-solving, time-management, and resilience.


Here are other examples of behavioral interview questions:


  • Could you tell me about a complex problem you solved at work? What was your approach to finding a solution?

  • Tell me about a time when you had to learn something new. In what ways did you approach the learning process?

  • Tell me about your most serious career failure and how you overcame it.

  • Describe a time when you disagreed with a team member. How did you resolve the problem?

  • Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. How did you handle interactions with that person?

  • Give me an example of when you delegated work across an entire team. What was the outcome?

  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a supervisor.

  • Tell me about a time when you had to juggle multiple projects. How did you ensure you completed them effectively and on time?

  • Tell me about a decision that you’ve regretted and how you overcame it.

  • Give me an example of when you set a goal and how you achieved it.


Finally, remember when you are conducting interviews, it is important that you ask each candidate the same questions in the same order. This helps to keep the process consistent across the board, and gives the interviewing team an “apples to apples” comparison of each candidate. For more information on behavioral interviewing, contact us at thelab@findreverie.com.


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