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Behavioral Interviewing

Tiffanye Hawes
 


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Most of you will be reviewing current resources and assessing the need to acquire new talent for projects and goals in 2008. Therefore, I want to provide guidance with regard to behavioral interviewing techniques. This method of interviewing ensures the candidate provides you valuable insight to actual performance and illustrates ways he/she has behaved in particular situations.

Your objective during the one or two-hour interview is to properly assess how the candidate will work within your company, with your employees, to add value to your organization. Too often, interviewers monopolize much of the interview. I am not dismissing the importance of company history and product disclosure during the interviewing process. However, solid methods must be developed to sufficiently define company expectations and job-specific responsibilities for the candidate while allowing you ample information about the person you plan to hire.

BEHAVIORAL INTERVIEWING - WHY USE THIS METHOD?

Too often traditional hiring decisions are based on the interviewer's personal opinion, first impression, and knowledge gained from rudimentary or standard questions developed for all candidates. Time will prove this is not a beneficial process for talent acquisition or building strength within the organization.

If you feel your organization has been at least 90 percent accurate hiring using your traditional interviewing techniques, you may want to continue using your strategy. However, if you have noticed new employees struggling during the introductory period or not meeting goals within the first six months of employment, I suggest you review your interviewing methods.

Behavioral Interviewing targets specific behaviors by requiring the candidate to discuss ways he/she has performed at work with co-workers and management. It is imperative that you hire based on real experience and true behavior. Because we are human, interviewing will continue to have some subjective influence; however, as much as possible, employ objective interaction by means of open-ended, situational inquiries to allow for valid assumptions.

The goal is to ensure you hire the right person for the right position, every time.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

It is critical that the interviewer understands the essential functions of each position they are recruiting for in order to be successful. This may mean that those pre-screening and interviewing candidates spend time observing current employees in the same position to appreciate knowledge required, typical workload and pace, work environment (to include those the new employee will report to and work with), and correctly determine the level of responsibility and accountability for the role. I learned very early in my career to be strategic and effective in human resources meant spending much time outside the HR office.

Prepare a solid job description using information from the observation and detailed requirements obtained from the supervisor or manager of the department. Make certain your advertisement clearly states essential functions and expectations required for successful candidates. Before scheduling a personal interview, email the candidate with a few clarifying questions and then perform a phone screen. Time is Money - so ensure you only bring the top candidates in for a personal interview.

INTERVIEWING CANDIDATES USING BEHAVIORAL INTERVIEWING TECHNIQUES

We have all asked candidates to, “Tell me how you would handle XYZ situation?" This is a good start. If you stop after the response and move to the next question - you most likely are using some form of traditional interviewing. Yet, if you continue to ask the candidate, “How did you feel when you were not selected to lead the project" or “How did you select the project team after you were selected as Project Manager?" - you are effectively using interviewing methods considered behavioral in nature. These continued questions require thought and generally provide more insightful answers. Moreover, the responses are not pre-rehearsed. Pay careful attention to non-verbal communication also. When asking probing questions, document whether the candidate is relaxed, annoyed, confused, or unable to respond.

Brief sample of questions for particular areas of talent acquisition:

Management

Describe a time when you had to make a difficult decision or change. How did you communicate this to your peers and employees? What was your method of communication (personal conversation, memorandum, email, etc)? How did you motivate people to support the decision/change? How did you measure success?

Information Technology

Provide an example of a time when you identified a potential problem and how you developed measures to affect a positive outcome. How did management review this? Did you feel rewarded for your efforts?

Customer Service

Describe a time when you dealt with a customer who explained because of “hard times" they were unable to pay for services rendered. How did you feel? How did you assist the customer?

Administrative

Explain how you have handled a situation in the past that required you to maintain confidential information. Were you tempted to disclose this information to family members or close peers at work? Did you find keeping the information completely private difficult?

General questions relating to teamwork, motivation, and planning:

1. Explain a time when you had to bring diverse departments together to implement a new policy or product. What did you find most enjoyable about the task? How did you get people involved? Were there any departments or particular individuals that you found difficult to work with, explain? If you lead implementation of another task, how will you enhance participation or cooperation?

2. Explain a time when you had a great idea and it was not accepted or implemented. How did you feel? How did you communicate your feelings to your manager, management, or your peers? Did this change your ability to suggest other ideas, explain?

3. Describe a time when your staff or co-workers disagreed with a corporate change in work procedures. How did you influence the opinions of others? Why do you feel your opinion was the correct opinion?

If you need further assistance, please contact Tiffanye L. Hawes, SPHR at info@thehumanresource.us

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