How to Conduct an Effective Behavioural Interview
Conducting an effective job interview takes a great deal of skill and preparation.
Behavioural interviews force a candidate to answer questions that demonstrate his competencies (knowledge, skills and abilities) by giving specific examples from his past experiences. They are often the best tool you have to identify candidates who have the behavioural traits and characteristics that you have selected as necessary for success in a particular job. The theory is that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour.
Key Points in Preparing for an Effective Interview:
Firstly, we must identify the key competencies an individual must posses to excel in this job.
Evaluate the current job description and describe the key competencies / specific skills or traits you are looking for (Time Management / Planning & Organising / Attention to Detail / Initiative, etc.) in performance success factors for the job.
If you have employees successfully performing the job currently, list the traits, characteristics, and skills they bring to the job.
Create a list of questions (these can be both behavioural and traditional) in line with the key competencies that ask the candidate to refer to past examples demonstrating these skills.
A structured list makes candidate selection more defensible and allows you to make comparisons between the various answers and approaches of your interviewees.
Key Points for Conducting an Effective Interview:
The key to successful interviewing is in the effective planning of the structure. Always begin each interview by introducing the people present and explain to the candidate the format the interview will follow.
Try to make the candidate comfortable and relaxed. You will be able to draw far more information in this situation, compared to a candidate that is uptight or anxious.
It is essential to present excellent customer-facing skills and inspire trust. Many applicants have been put off taking a position through the actions of the person interviewing them.
Remember, it is not an interrogation so display tact, empathy and try to be reassuring at all times.
The Interview Format:
You have spent considerable time and effort developing your list of competency based questions – make sure you follow this list for every short-listed candidate. Try to stay focused during the interview and use your questions to overcome emotional reactions and remain in control.
Take notes, answers to structured behavioural interview questions should provide verifiable, concrete evidence as to how a candidate has dealt with issues in the past. This information often reveals a candidate's level of experience and his or her potential to handle similar situations in your organisation. The information may also be highly useful in conducting final reference checks, as one may verify that the candidate actually did what he or she has claimed.
Consider completing a job interview rating sheet including comments on general impression, interpersonal skills and job-specific competencies, work simulation observations, test results, references and recommendations for hire. This will enable you to more effectively discuss the interviews within your management team and provide for a more effective decision making process.
Short and simple interview questions are better than long and complex ones. Try probing for specific detail if the candidate does not initially share it. A candidate may not be prepared for this type of interview format and may need some coaching. A pre-determined set of follow-up questions to ask candidates is worthwhile having to hand.
Remember, candidates will be keen to create a positive impression and only by probing will you really uncover their full strengths and development needs. Even though you have asked behavioural-based questions to uncover specific competencies and past responses to work situations, supplementary questions will be necessary to unearth more about their capabilities.
Look out for attempts to evade questions or uncomfortable body language. This should suggest that you revisit the quest and probe a little deeper.
Make sure you keep your gestures and comments neutral. A simple thank you in response to an answer is far more appropriate than frowning or an over enthusiastic 'that's great'. This should enable you to maintain objectivity and reduce the effect of manipulating a candidate's perception of the interview.
Closing the Interview:
Be sure to allow time at the interview to give the candidate a chance to ask questions. There may be some tricky ones here for you!
Make sure that you also cover specific information such as salary expectations, notice period and general availability (such as pre-booked holidays) etc.
Inform candidates of the next step in the hiring process and as to when / how they are likely to hear of the decision taken.
Make the Right Choice:
Review your interview notes along with the rest of the decision making / management team. Use the competency related framework and job related information to rank each candidates responses in a positive or negative light.
The values, behavioural characteristics and traits you have identified and sought out give you a much better idea whether the selected candidate is a good fit for your position. Use behavioural interviewing to select the candidate most likely to succeed. Your notes here will provide a far greater level of objectivity when comparing candidates than trying to remember the specifics of each interview.
Select your candidate with behavioural characteristics that match the needs of the job in mind.