Sunday, September 9, 2012

Benefits of Behavioral Based Interviews

Picture this: You have posted job vacancies. You need to fill them with top performers, and you need to fill them fast. You have just gone through a myriad of resumes, combed through as many as possible and finally pulled a few gems. Now if only these applicants turn out to be the stellar employees their resumes, applications and interviews promise to be -  because the last time you hired those perfect candidates, they showed up to work impersonating someone else! So how can you really tell? How do you predict future performance? 

To begin with, let’s put the process in perspective. The hiring and selection process can be described as having two main elements: the tangible and the intangible. When you have scanned through an applicant’s resume, screened the basic but required competencies and checked out the prerequisite occupational qualifications, such as education, certifications, training and experience -the tangible fit - you proceed to invite the applicant in for a personal or telephonic interview. This is to ascertain the intangible fit such as attitude, values, demeanor and appearance, among other things. Since this is a critical step to matching the candidate to a job, it is crucial to elicit as much information from the candidate as possible, and more importantly, it is crucial that this information be job-relevant. The main purpose of an interview is to determine some predictability of performance if the person were hired.  

This is where behavioral interviewing serves an invaluable purpose. The premise behind behavioral interviewing is that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in similar situations. So instead of asking broad, sweeping questions such as “Tell me about yourself” or hypothetical ones such as “what would you do if….,” the behavioral interview questions are fashioned after actual incidents, and are filled with further probes. Examples are, “In your previous position, how have you handled an irate customer who refused to reason?” led by a probing question such as, “What led you to make that offer,” or “How did you overcome those objections?” This line of questioning is designed to elicit responses that describe the candidate’s thought process, motivation and behavior. There is no right or wrong answer, rather, it is a process of discovery that helps the interviewer learn about the candidate’s critical thinking skills, objective judgment as well as assess attitude, integrity and thinking style, that may be relevant to the current position. The key is to keep probing and digging deeper into the first question; it gets the applicant to think and respond, and it becomes difficult to be fictional, as in traditional interviews. Knowing how a person behaved in similar or unique situations in the past is an excellent predictor of behavior in a similar situation in the future.  

Behavioral interviews are often part of a valid and reliable screening assessment tool, such as the Profile XT™ that outlines the benchmark of success of a job and highlights a candidate's match against it. The Placement Report is equipped with targeted behavioral interview questions that address specific gaps. Request a sample report at

Seema Rafay is the President of Spectrum Performance Management, a FL based, global talent management firm, providing talent solutions in hiring and selection for performance, retention strategies, succession planning, and top brass leadership development. She specializes in right-fit performance profiling and job-matching in the selection and development of top performers, executive coaching, and customized employee performance workshops. Visit for details, or contact Seema at or 786-245-7161