Preparing Questions for a Successful Behavioral Interview

A behavioral interview seeks to discover how candidates for your jobs have acted in response to various situations or problems in the past. Once you have a good idea of how they responded to real-world situations in the past, you can assess how they will perform under similar pressures when they work for your company. Since you are looking for specific sorts of responses, it is important to prepare your questions to reflect the position as it is and with an eye for how you’d like to see the position grow.

This post will take a look at preparing for a behavioral interview, including these topics:

  • Start with Focused Questions
  • Research for the Behavioral Interview
  • Why Being Tough is Crucial
  • How to Set-up Scoring Metrics

Focused Questions

When you are preparing your behavioral interview questions, keep in mind that your objective is to uncover specific examples of interviewee experience. Since you cannot interview their former co-workers or bosses, you will need to rely on them. So, focus each question as narrowly as possible. You might start your questions with phrases such as:

  • Tell be about a time when …
  • What is your best example of …
  • What is your worst instance of …
  • I really didn’t like it when …

Research for the Behavioral Interview

If you are a human resources consultant or professional, make sure you know everything about the position. Make sure you get into the gritty details of the daily activities and the long-term projects involved. You might interview others who are doing the same or similar jobs. Keep in mind that the duties may have changed since you last reviewed the job, so look for ways in which the job has changed. With this refreshed knowledge, you can ask granular questions to see how the candidate responds. When you know the position inside and out, you will be able to engage the candidate in a meaningful conversation.

Be Tough

Prepare questions that will put the candidate in the hot seat. Behavioral interviews are not only interested in uncovering strengths and successes, but to illuminate times when things didn’t go so well. Therefore, it is important to be objective and dispassionate when candidates become uncomfortable in the interview. You might ask questions about a time when their projects fell apart or when they were unable to communicate effectively with a co-worker. It is important that you are prepared to sit and listen patiently while the candidate works through the tough questions you pose to them.

It may be tempting to go easy on an interviewee, but keep in mind that they will need to handle pressures while on the job. The better prepared you are to apply pressure in the interview, the better prepared your candidate will be once they arrive for their orientation.

Set up Scoring Metrics

Break down your questions into categories and find a method for assessing the responses. For the sake of your notes, you might rate each response from 1-10 and then allow plenty of space to make notes. You might even score the response according to several metrics. For instance, you might score the interviewee for specificity, candor, and question-specific metrics such as self-motivation, communication skills, and ability to manage conflicts.

Lori Rush is the founder and President of Rush Recruiting & HR, LLC and certified in STAR Behavioral Interviewing Techniques. She has been providing employment services as an outsourced HR Consultant, assisting businesses in hiring and recruiting, on-boarding of employees and performance management support, including employee handbooks, position descriptions and performance reviews.

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