Getting the Answers that Matter: How to Incorporate Behavioral Interview Questions into Your Interview

Behavioral interview questions are key in determining whether a candidate is truly the best fit for a role.

As important as it is to analyze each candidate’s personality and demeanor when you’re interviewing, are you being consistent with your interview questions? For any position you are hiring for, from VP of Sales to a Lead Generation Specialist, it’s important to decide beforehand the most important questions to ask each and every candidate. This way, you can assess the candidate’s skills that will have the most impact and be most essential for the role.

Several times I have asked a hiring manager for detailed feedback on how and interview with a candidate went, only to hear:

“They’re great! Let’s move forward”

“Okay, excellent – what did you learn about them?”

“Really friendly! We have a similar background, and, oh, we both had Joe Smith as a manager back at…blablabla”

Okay, that’s great. But it doesn’t sound like much information was gained during the interview process. As a manager, you want to hire someone who will be able to get the job done, not just be pleasant. It’s also not fair or compliant to ask different questions to different candidates — then they are not equally compared to one another. How do we solve this?

Before the interview process begins, get together with the key stakeholders and decide which aspects are most important to the role. What are the values or skills that are key to the job? They can include anything: agility, a strong network, focus, teamwork, sense of urgency, ability to maneuver through Excel, etc, etc.

Once this has been determined, create a set of behavioral interview questions that are related to the most important pieces of the job.

Looking for someone who can take responsibility for their work? You could ask something along the lines of:

“Tell me about a time when you missed a deadline. What happened? How did you handle it, and what would you do differently next time?”

Is teamwork important? Ask something like:

“Tell me about a time when working together with others was more beneficial than working alone.”

Make sure to take note of the candidate’s answers and review them after the interview. Once their physical presence has been taken out of the equation, how good are their responses to your questions? With each interview it will become more and more clear which candidate sticks out and will do a great job in the position.

Have you ever made a hire based on someone’s personality without digging deep enough into their skills? What was the outcome? Do you think using a set of behavioral interview questions will be beneficial to your interview process?


Katy Smigowski
Katy Smigowski
Recruiting Lead - Software

Katy Smigowski is the Recruiting Lead-Software at Fitbit, where she is directly managing sourcing team, recruiting process and recruiting strategy dedicated to driving software hiring in our Boston office. Prior to Fitbit, she was a Talent Specialist at OpenView responsible for recruiting initiatives for both the firm and its portfolio companies.
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