Performing a behavioral based candidate interview

Some behaviors we want to understand during an interview are the candidates ability to remember details about the interview, the company, and incorporating information into answers.  We want candidates who can think critically about their answers and fulfill the requirements of the position.

Here is a typical flow for a behavioral based interview:

First, welcome the candidate, introduce yourself and others.  It is also a great idea to make sure that the candidate understands the role and responsibility for the position.  Then ask for the candidates for their brief work history.  Next, we ask two questions and request that the candidate answer the first question now and then the second question at the end of the interview.  Do not prompt the candidate to answer the second question, at the end of the interview, this defeats the assessment.  We will see if the candidate can incorporate details from the interview and incorporate the information into their answers.  Here is a sample:

Thank you, <candidate name> for coming in today. 

We are going to start by asking you two questions.  The first question we would like you to answer now and the second question, at the end of the interview.  We will give you both questions now.  First, why do you enjoy working in <whatever industry>? The second question is, why would you like to work at our company?  

The best candidate will remember to answer the second question at the end of the interview, and also incorporate information from the interview into their answer.

The next series of questions, for a behavioral assessment, will seek to understand the candidates behavior at work, with particular situations and how they would handle the job.  Here are a series of questions that I have used in the past:

  • Lets pretend for a moment that you are responsible for <a component of the job> and there is an issue, unfortunately no one is around to assist you with the problem, what do you do?
  • Please tell us about a time that you did not fully agree with your supervisor’s direction, how did you handle the situation?
  • Tell us about a time you had to work with a difficult co-worker that did not seem flexible or willing to work collaboratively, how did you work through the situation?  Did you employ any influencing tactics to help jump to a successful relationship?

Behavioral based interviews are very helpful.  Make sure to watch the candidate’s body language, their tone, their facial expressions, if they make good eye contact.  From my history interview hundreds of candidates, I have found that the best employees have the following:

  • Their interview answers are positive, emotionally balanced, and show they work for the greater good of the company.
  • Their eye contact is appropriate, they take good notes during the interview, and they are able to incorporate bits of information that I shared with them about the role, into their answers.
  • They also remember the 2nd question at the end of the interview, and provide a well rounded answer.
  • While being nervous for an interview is normal, any extreme nervous behavior may be a sign of low confidence.  We want employees to show great confidence, with humility.

How do you do in and interview?


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