How behavioral-based interviewing can identify better candidates

As more work has gone remote, so has candidate interviewing. In this environment, companies tend to lose sight of best interviewing practices.

“Interviewers now tend to ask more superficial questions,” says Dave Fechter, Executive Vice President of Business Development and Operations at Action Management Services. “For example, companies might ask someone if they have mergers and acquisitions experience and settle for an answer such as, ‘Yeah, we bought a company in 2017.’ Then the interviewer checks a box and moves on.”

Instead, interviewers should dig deeper on candidate performance, as well as cultural fit, through behavioral-based questioning.

Smart Business spoke with Fechter about behavioral-based interviewing and how it helps companies better identify the best candidates.

What is behavioral-based interviewing?

Human beings are creatures of habit and tend to repeat their behaviors. How they handled a situation in the past is a strong indicator of how they’re likely to handle it in the future. Digging deeper with behavioral-based interview questions is revealing.

Behavioral-based interviewing offers an opportunity to understand not just how a candidate resolved certain business challenges, but whether their personality will fit within the culture of the organization. By asking behavior-based questions, for example, an interviewer can get the candidate talking about a time they had to integrate an acquisition and ran into differences of culture. That leads to a candidate talking about an event and how, specifically, they dealt with it. It’s about understanding how the person responded in a situation that they’re going to face when they take on the new position.

Behavioral-based interviewing begins by envisioning the situations a new hire is going to be in at the new company and then questions are generated that attempt to uncover how they’ve previously responded in similar situations. The real litmus test in the candidate’s responses is whether their previous approach could work within the cultural context of the new environment. Are they a rogue actor in a team environment? That approach, however effective it was, might cause problems in a company that prioritizes collaboration.

Companies should also define what success looks like for this person after they’ve been with the company for a year. Think through the role, the projects on which they’ll work, the team they’ll need to integrate into and, with each assignment, determine what measurements will need to be met to consider the person a successful hire.

What is the STAR method?

STAR is a method a candidate uses to answer an interview question in a way that presents a situation, the task that they were faced with, the action the candidate took and the results that they got. Some employers have asked that candidates add a T to the STAR method, which then becomes the START method, which represents the takeaway from that experience.

These responses should communicate to the interviewer how the candidate responded to a situation and what they learned from it. Knowing that they’re likely going to repeat that same behavior when they’re faced with the same situation again, employers are given, in a sense, a predictor of what’s going to happen in their environment.

Who within a company should interview candidates?

It is best that the people who will work day-to-day with the candidate are handling the interviews — the hiring manager and possibly one or two of their key peers. They are uniquely able, because of their proximity, to judge a candidate’s fit in a department.

In cases where a company is unable to do its own hiring, a recruiting firm could step in to handle most of the work. However, it’s important to work with a firm that’s willing to gain a thorough understanding of the business and the needs of each department.

Behavioral-based interviewing is a technique that goes beyond the resume to help a company understand each candidate and how they might fit into the culture. Organizations that are unable to deploy this method should look for a recruiting firm that understands these techniques and is willing to get in tune with the company’s culture to find somebody who matches beyond just qualifications on a resume. ●

INSIGHTS Recruiting is brought to you by Action Management Services

Dave Fechter

Executive Vice President, Business Development and Operations


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