Behavioral Interviewing Tips: Top 5 Blunders to Avoid

The core belief behind behavioral interviewing is that the best predictor of future performance is past performance.

You interview the candidate by asking a series of questions in regards to their past behaviors, to help determine if the candidate can prove that they have taken action and delivered results.
Behavioral interviewing is only helpful in assessing a candidate when done right, however, and there are plenty of ways to get it wrong.
Below are the top five blunders to avoid and a corresponding list of behavioral interviewing tips to help you conduct more effective interviews.

Behavioral Interviewing Tips to Help You Avoid The Top 5 Blunders

1) Don’t Lead Your Interviewees

Here’s an example of a leading question:
“Collaboration and agility are a big part of our culture. Tell me about a recent project that you collaborated with your team on, and how you adapted when the plan/situation changed.”
When you preface questions with detailed information, or in other works lead the candidate into the answer, a candidate would need to be clueless to provide an unsatisfactory answer. You’re basically tipping them off on exactly how you want them to respond.

2) Avoid Generalities and Probe Deeper

For each behavioral interviewing question, follow the B.A.R. (Background, Action, Results) method for candidate responses. Be sure that candidates are explaining the background of the situation, what action was taken, and what the outcome was. If a candidate does not give you all three B.A.R. criteria in his or her answer, ask probing questions to get the detailed information.

3) Lay Off the Hypothetical / Theoretical Questions

It’s great to know how someone would do something in theory, but how have they done it in the past? Instead of asking, “How would you go about explaining a complex technical problem to a non-technical client?” try something more grounded in past experience. Ex: “How have your explained a complex technical problem to a non-technical audience?”
Hypothetical questions can be effective in evaluating  a candidate’s thought process, but they are generally not effective in behavioral interviewing.

4) Don’t Accept Answers that Start Out with “We…” or “The Team…”

Do not allow candidates to get away with answering questions that allow them to take credit for the actions of others. Ask what the candidate’s direct role was in getting to the result. What specifically did he or she do?

5) Do Not Attempt to Fill the Silence

When you ask behavioral interviewing questions, give the candidate the opportunity to recall an event. Allow him or her a minute or two to think about how to respond to your question.
It’s in our nature to want to avoid awkward pauses and fill in silence by rephrasing, leading, etc. But, in behavioral interviews, it is important to allow candidates time to give you a thoughtful answer.
Use these behavioral interviewing tips as a guide to help you improve your interviewing process and pinpoint the best candidates for the job.
What other behavioral interviewing mistakes would you add to the list?

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