Behavioral interviewing uses strategically composed questions to generate word pictures of how a candidate’s past performance supports a hiring company’s future needs. Focusing in on both hard and soft skills, the questions drill down into several layers of a job seeker’s value proposition, unearthing interview gold.
This type of questioning remains popular because it is the most pragmatic way to uncover real-life work experiences. The answers, if articulated well, will convince the employer that the job seeker is a fit – or not – for an open opportunity.
While hundreds of behavioral interview questions are available to help the employer vet out their next great candidate, I believe the following 11 questions are absolutely must-asks:
Value of This Question: Unearths how self-motivated the candidate is when the job gets tough, and/or when they do not feel in control. How do they step up and unravel challenges of a failing project? Or, what actions do they take to ensure timelines are met on the next project? When ideas are passed over, do they internalize the situation and, over time, get so frustrated that they decide to conduct a job search (and thus, this is why you are interviewing them today?), or, do they brainstorm with a coach or colleague, or even discuss with the boss who dismissed the idea, to find a better path to ideation?
Value of This Question: Speaks to integrity and values and how the job seeker communicates their needs amid uncomfortable and uncertain situations. It also helps the hiring company to determine if there is a values-fit with this candidate.
Value of This Question: Helps determine culture fit. For example, if the most energizing aspect of their job has been interacting with clients on a daily basis but there is no similar type of interaction in the prospective role, then further discovery may be in order to ensure fit.
Group Interviewing Techniques and Tips
Value of This Question: Again, this question helps determine culture fit. If the most depleting period of time was when the candidate regularly corresponded with clients, but they prefer working solitarily, then this job (especially if it continual customer correspondence) may not be a fit.
Value of This Question: Uncovers how the candidate responds to pressure and also their problem-solving skills. For example, if the employee shows how they bartered with a colleague for additional resources, then they prove out-of-the-box initiative (versus asking their boss for additional budgeting or resources that may not have been available).
Value of This Question: Provides insights about the job seeker’s decisiveness as well as confidence. Moreover, asking what the result was helps to determine the quality of the candidate’s decision.
How to Write Great Job Descriptions that Land Great Hires
Value of This Question: Delivers insights into the candidate’s drive, and the ‘why’ behind the initiative. Is the candidate internally driven to always push that extra mile, or was this a one-and-done? If a one-and-done, then what was their motivator? Was it team-driven, was it for a greater company good, or, perhaps they wanted to prove being ready for the next promotion, for example.
Value of This Question: Unearths the candidate’s conflict resolution abilities. It also may illustrate how flexible the candidate is in adapting their expectations and/or behaving with humility to achieve a greater organizational good.
Value of This Question: Exposes the candidate’s advanced customer relationship management skills, as well as tenacity in problem-solving. It also reveals how well they connect the dots between a problem and a meaningful outcome. Even better if they can measure the results or articulate how their resolution contributed to longer-term gains.
Value of This Question: Brings light to the interviewee’s influence skills. How well can they gain idea buy-in from someone who does not report to them? How well do they function in a matrix environment? Moreover, it sheds light on communication abilities.
Value of This Question: Uncovers the candidate’s ability to own their mistakes and also demonstrates their ability to rectify the situation immediately or if that’s not possible, to prove they’ve learned from their mistakes and have put measures in place to avoid them happening again.
By tapping into these top 11 questions as well as adapting behavioral questions to your own unique hiring situation, you will glean an abundance of candidate intel, extending the conversation beyond the resume. After the interview, you will better understand motivators and values, you will get a sense how the candidate solves problems and initiates new ideas, you will know whether they play well with others or work better solitarily, and you will understand how they influence and communicate with others.