Have you ever hired someone because they “blew your socks off” in the interview only to have them turn into a “toad” once they became an employee? Most managers have had that experience. So what happened and more importantly how can you avoid having it happen again?

My guess is that what probably happened during the interview process is that you switched from interviewing the candidate to trying to hire the person! Let me be more specific. Let’s say that you’ve had an “open” position for quite some time. Let’s say that you (or other employees) have had to cover for that open position and it’s putting quite a bit of strain on the organization. Finally a candidate appears at your door that at least “looks the part.” He or she sits down for the interview and as they answer the first question you observe that they were quite articulate and that they answered the question they way you wanted them to answer the question. The second question you ask probably became easier than the first because you think that they may be the one! All of a sudden you move full speed ahead into the hiring mode. You tell them about the job. You sell them on the company. You sell them on the benefits and so forth. You did everything except interview them! One way to keep from falling into that trap is to use a process called behavioral interviewing.

Behavioral interviewing is a technique based on the fact that a candidate’s past and present behavior is the best predictor of how he or she will behave in the future. But behavioral traits don’t appear on a resume… they can only come from an interview. Furthermore, interviewers need to obtain repeated examples of a specific behavior to ensure that the behavior they are observing is “real” and not just “turned on” for the interview itself.

By asking questions about past experiences an interviewer can better predict future behavior by:

  • Eliminating misunderstandings
  • Preventing the “halo effect” (e.g., can do no wrong)
  • Reducing the candidate’s ability to mislead

Interviews not based on exploring competencies/behaviors inevitably focus exclusively on education, experience, and knowledge… exactly what’s on the resume! While these are clearly important, they only reveal what a candidate “said” that they did. Behavioral interviewing helps get at the “how” and “why”behind a candidate’s performance and what he or she is likely to do in the future.

Behavioral interviewing will enable you to hire good employees…not good interviewees!

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