Behavioral-based interviewing has been around for a long time. However, many hiring managers find the topic to be one that is new to them and most companies are not sure about what it really means to their organization. The goal of any organization should be to be able to hire a candidate who has the ability to talk a good game and deliver great performance. So how do companies do this? By developing a system within their organization where they evaluate candidates based on previous work experience and their ability to apply knowledge and experience to the performance required of the new job. Simply put, behavior-based interviewing is one where questions are asked of an applicant that can’t illicit a “yes” or “no” answer. As Allen Salikof, Past President/CEO of MRI, Inc. stated, “The idea behind behavioral interviewing is that you can tell much more about a person’s attitudes, work habits and skills by hearing them describe real actions taken in real circumstances than by letting them speak in the abstract about themselves.”
Successful companies have found that by implementing a behavior-based interviewing model that they have increased productivity and employee morale, reduced turnover rates and consistently had better quality and customer service. So, how do companies implement a model for behavior-based interviewing? It is a relatively simple task that if implemented correctly will lead to the hiring of “superstars” within your organization.
- Step #1 – Analyze the job. Write new or analyze existing job descriptions, performance standards and business goals. Job descriptions should include mandatory competencies needed for someone to perform the job. Those that the job absolutely requires in order for someone to be successful. Competencies include skills and abilities to include items such as: verbal and written communication; technical and/or analytical; visionary or strategic thinking; cost consciousness and/or financial; teamwork and/or independence; among many others. In addition to competencies, metrics for performance standards should be included that match the current goals and/or business objectives of the company.
- Step #2 – Plan the interview. Most interviews are not successful because the hiring manager does not take the time to plan ahead. Writing out questions to ask an applicant prior to conducting the interview is essential to its success. Asking probing questions that relate to an applicant’s experience and skill set and/or the mandatory competencies of the job that start with who, what, when, where, why and how will illicit detailed answers that describe their work habits, decision-making capabilities and overall work-related behaviors.
- Step #3 – Conduct the interview. Interviews should be conducted in a quiet environment with three or fewer interviewers. Having more than three interviewers present may intimidate the applicant and be less effective than having individual interviews. Make sure that you allow the candidate to gather their thoughts after asking each question. Allow silence and time for them to answer each question thoroughly. Follow up with probing questions as needed. Describe the position at the end of the interview, answer the applicant’s questions, sell the position and organization and close the interview.
- Step #4 – Evaluate applicants. As part of the planning process construct an evaluation form to use after the interview. Immediately after the interview complete the evaluation form so as to make sure that you are evaluating each applicant fairly. Plus, remembering information at a later date will be easier if you have an evaluation form. Make sure to include information about how well the candidate matches to the job that you are hiring for. Document your information and make a hire or no hire decision.
For those companies that have implemented behavior-based interviewing techniques they have found that they:
- Provide a systematic process for interviewing.
- Help them to acquire relevant and objective information from an applicant.
- Provide the “best” match between the applicant and the job.
- Reduce training time, which ultimately reduces turnover.
For additional information on developing behavior-based interviewing techniques in your company, please contact New Focus HR.
Written By: Kristen Shingleton, M.B.A., CCP
President, New Focus HR LLC