How Effective Are Your Behavioral Interviews?

By Irina Nagy

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Many candidates seem to feel that they can easily customise their answers and fake their way through different questions by telling the interviewers only what they want to hear.

What can employers do in such a situation? How can they get to the bottom of the matter? Will candidates really reveal their true personality, their work style and their problem-solving skills and motivations?

The behavioral interview concept was developed back in the 1970’s by industrial psychologists for the purpose of helping managers make solid hiring decisions.

It is based on the idea that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. The interviewer looks for specific examples of when and how the candidate has demonstrated particular behaviors. Prior to the interview each position is assessed for the skills/competencies and characteristics that relate to job success. Interview questions are then developed to probe into these areas and candidates are then asked the same questions in order to measure their work ethic, job interest, work experience or strengths and weaknesses.

Behavioral questions improve hiring results and determine whether the candidate is a good cultural fit for the company by cutting through the banalities of traditional interviewing and requiring candidates to give pertinent examples of when they demonstrated the particular skills needed for a specific position. These questions reveal competencies that are important to success at a given position and give candidates the opportunity to tell interviewers about the positive effects their actions have had. Therefore, more and more employers choose to embrace this approach instead of traditional interviewing.

Typical examples of questions asked are:

  1. Tell me about a time you successfully worked with a difficult co-worker to complete a task.
  2. How do you typically deal with conflict? Give an example.
  3. Give me an example of a time when you overcame an obstacle at work with limited resources?
  4. Do you prefer to work alone or with others?
  5. Provide a specific example of a time you had to juggle multiple projects simultaneously
  6. Describe a time when you succeeded at work because of your ability to communicate.
  7. Which accomplishment are you proud of and why does it mean so much to you?
  8. Tell me about a time you had a conflict with someone within the organization.
  9. Give me an example of a time you took a leadership role.
  10. What is most important to you in a job?
  11. Which are the first five things you’d do if you were hired tomorrow?
  12. Describe a situation when you found yourself challenged. Were you successful? If not, why?
  13. What is the riskiest decision you have made? What was the situation? What happened?
  14. Give an example of a time when you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
  15. Have you ever recognized a problem before your boss or co-workers did? How did you handle that?

What’s your experience with behavioral interviews? How has it worked for you? Please share your experiences below.


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