Behavioral Interviewing—A Best Talent Management Practice


Behavioral Interviewing—A Best Talent Management Practice 

Behavioral interviewing is a style of interviewing that was developed in the 1970’s by industrial psychologists. Behavioral interviewing asserts that “the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation.” Currently, most organizations are using behavioral interviewing to some degree.

Though according to DDI (Global Selection Forecast 2012 Jazmine Boatman, Ph.D., and Scott Erker, Ph.D.) , “Only 3 in 5 organizations thoroughly determine what knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences their future employees should have. Failure to implement this essential step could explain a lot about the lack of fit new hires are experiencing. If an organization does not truly understand how a person will be successful in a particular job, then assessing candidates for that position will be quite challenging.”

So at this point, let’s assume that your organization has conducted a thorough job analysis of each position, including the identification and alignment of a competency model.  Therefore, companies that employ behavioral interviewing have predetermined the skill sets they require for a particular position. These skill sets could include: decision making and problem solving, leadership, motivation, communication, interpersonal skills, planning and organization, critical thinking skills, team building and the ability to influence others.

Unlike interviews, which include such questions as–tell me about yourself, what are your strengths and weaknesses, why are you interested in working for us, behavioral interviewing emphasizes past performance and behaviors. As a consequence, candidates unprepared for the rigor of behavioral interviewing have not fared well. Simply practicing the list of common interview questions no longer works. In fact, candidates who prepare for behavioral interviews are better prepared—even for interviews that are not behavioral.

Companies that invest the time and energy in developing behavioral interviews often attract top candidates. In turn, the hiring manager is better able to make a more accurate hiring decision which impacts retention positively.

Here are some examples of behavioral questions that were developed to align with the respective competency:

Dealing with AmbiguityDescribe a time when a situation was ambiguous but you had to take action. How did you decide what to do?
Customer FocusTell me about a situation where you went out of your way to satisfy a customer.
InnovationWalk me through how you adapted a method used in one function so it would work in another function as well.
Problem SolvingWalk me though a problem situation where you identified the pros and cons of different options.
InitiativeDescribe a time when you recognized an opportunity and acted on it without being told to do so by your supervisor.
IntegrityTell me about a time when you told the truth, especially when it would have been to your advantage to mislead someone.
Decision Making and Problem SolvingGive me an example of a time when you had to keep from speaking or making a decision because you did not have enough information.
Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision.
LeadershipWhat is the toughest group that you have had to get cooperation from?
Have you ever had difficulty getting others to accept your ideas? What was your approach? Did it work?
MotivationGive me an example of a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty.
Describe a situation when you were able to have a positive influence on the action of others.

Other techniques that will help to get better information in a behavioral interview, include:

Ø  Explain to the candidate beforehand about the types of questions you will be asking.

Ø  Take thorough notes. Be descriptive, not evaluative. Try to capture exact quotes.

Ø  Interrupt the candidate when the candidate gets off track.

Ø  Tolerate silence while the candidate is thinking.

Another effective way to interview candidates is to use the three-step STAR process to implement the behavioral interviewing process:

1. Situation or Task
2. Action
3. Result or outcome

For example, you might recount a time when communication within your work group had broken down (situation). To resolve the problem, you organized informal lunch meetings for people to discuss relevant issues (action). Morale then improved, as did the lines of communication (result). Using this three step STAR process is a powerful way for you to frame your experiences and accomplishments for the interviewer.

  • Ask questions that encourage the candidate to provide a detailed example of how they demonstrated the behavior.
  • Listen carefully to each question. If you are unsure, rephrase the question and ask for clarification. When you respond, be sure to recall your past accomplishments in detail.
  • Summarize what you heard and clarify.
  • Identify whether the candidate demonstrated the behavior to the requirements of the job.

Of course, behavioral interviewing is but one element contributing to a “great” hire but it certainly supports an aligned talent management strategy. Learn more about behavioral-based interviewing and other strategic approaches to hiring and retention in our next Talent Management Certification Program, kicking off on December 7th.

Join us for the following certification programs kicking off in December to take advantage of 2016 prices!

 ODCP (December 2nd, 8:30 am EST)
LDCP (December 6th, 6:30 pm EST)
TMCP (December 7th, 6:30 pm EST)

Patricia Dammann is the VP of Programs and Operations for IOD and facilitator for Leadership Development. Talent Management, and Organization Development Certification Programs.  She can be reached at


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