Understanding Behavioral-based competency Interviewing

How to make SURE you hire the RIGHT 
people Today?

Most  mother-in-laws are experts in  behavioral interviewing.

Remember this advice: ''When you choose your husband/wife...you better love him/her as s/he is now: s/he not going to change, and neither are you.' 

And it's true.

For the most part, people don't change their behavior from year to year. 

For example, if a person is meticulous about keeping their desk tidy and all their correspondence up-to-date, it's almost certain that person will display that very same trait this time next year.

And if a person is notorious for always showing up late.........no-one is shocked if the same person is always late in his new job also.

And that's the key behind  behavioral interviewing

Behavior-based interviewing is an approach that looks at past behavior as the best predictor of future performance.

And it makes simple common sense!

Here's a vital fact.

Using behavioral interviewing can increase by nearly 60% your chances of hiring the right employee*.

In fact, extensive research supports behavioral interviewing (i.e. using past performance as a reliable indicator of future performance) as the most effective interviewing technique available to evaluate suitable applicants.

*Salgado, J. F. (1997) Personnel Selection Methods' in C. L. Cooper and I. T. Robinson, International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. New York: Wiley.

"Tell me a time when....."

For example, rather than asking, "What would you do if ..." one should ask, 'Tell me about a time when you.....

You want to find out how people ACTUALLY behave rather than their promise of how they will behave.

Remember: Just because people can give good answers and sound impressive -- it doesn't mean they can DO what they SAY.

Let's take a very simple example.

A Simple Example

You're interviewing Mary for the position of company receptionist.

The interview starts as normal ...and you are using the same old, traditional questions.

• What is your experience, Mary?

• Why do you want to work here?

• What do you know about our company?

• Mary, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Good Questions....and bad Questions

These questions aren't bad in themselves. 

They will definitely help you to find out more about Mary. But they are severely limited, as they can lead to very standard and well-rehearsed responses from your interviewee.

Look, at this stage even the dogs in the street would have a good idea what questions you are going to ask - and with practice, could give you great answers!

So even if Mary answers well - what does it really mean? Is she really good?

Or.... is she just good at answering the same old questions that EVERY interviewer asks?

You see, at the end of all these questions, you still have very little REAL information about how Mary would behave in real-life situations

But there is another approach....


Behavioral interviewing

It is behavioral-based interviewing. Instead of the same old traditional questions, well-crafted behavioral-based questions can give you a much more accurate 'printout' of a candidate's true character and ability.

Remember again, behavioral-based interviewing is highly effective because it examines the past behavior of a job candidate, which is considered the most accurate indicator of future behavior.

Here's how it works:

Let's say that you want to find out more about, say Mary's skills of diplomacy. How would she deal with people?

In the past, you might have asked:

''Would you say you are very diplomatic with people?'

'Yes, I am'.

Full stop.

Look, you have asked her a close-ended question leading to a similar response.

However, a behavioral-based question might be:

'Mary, have you ever felt irritated or frustrated while dealing with a customer? How did you respond when customers became demanding beyond an acceptable level?'

Do you see the difference?

The 'Behavior-based question' questions how she behaved in the past in very specific situations relating to diplomacy.

It allows the candidate to give you a fuller answer - and it gives you a more accurate and truer picture of the candidate. 

You see how the candidate reacted in the past and that is always the best predictor of future performance. 


How to use this approach in your

You should always define the behavioral competencies you are looking for in the right employee to fill your position.

This way you will be more focused when recruiting. Once you know the behavioral competencies you want, you can then structure your interview questions to learn more about the interviewee.......and watch how your success rate in picking the right person will improve....and improve.


In a nutshell:

The goal of any selection interview is to learn enough about a candidate to be able to predict future-on-the-job performance and behavior. That information can then be used to make an informed hiring decision or recommendation.

Behavioral interviewing is a technique based on the idea that candidates' past and present behavior is the best predictor of how they will behave in the future. 

But behavioral traits don't appear on a resume — they can only come from an interview. Furthermore, interviewers need to obtain repeated examples of behavior to confirm they really exist.

Interviews not based on behavioral interviewing techniques inevitably focus exclusively on education, experience, and knowledge — exactly the information that's already on the resume. While these are clearly important, they only reveal what a candidate actually did. Behavioral interviewing helps get at the "how" and "why" behind a candidate's performance.

Competency-based behavioral interviewing uses "competencies" to describe behavioral qualities. Examples include analytical, problem solver, team player and customer-oriented. Behavioral competencies should be used to describe job requirements ("must be articulate, adaptable, committed," and so on) before the interview as well as to evaluate candidates after an interview.

When competency-based behavioral interviewing forms the framework for the entire hiring system, interviewers are able to make much more effective hiring decisions.

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Copyright 2008 interview Questions
Susan O'Neill, Chief Interview Advisor


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