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?

What probably happened is during the interview process you subliminally switched from interviewing the person 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 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 the 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 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.

Let me give you some examples of behavioral or situational interview questions:

  • “How did you prepare for this interview?”
  • “Who is the best boss you’ve ever worked for and what made them so good?”
  • “Tell me about a difficult customer situation that you were able to satisfactorily resolve?”
  • “How have you pursued your current job search?”
  •  “Tell me about a time you had to complete a “rush” project with no resources and little direction?”
  • “If I were to offer you the job today what actions would you take  to hit the ground running?”

By establishing a behavioral interviewing process managers/companies will be better able to assess potential candidates in terms of skills, attitude, aptitude and “fit.”  I suggest that you leave the “toads” on their lily pads and hire people that will help your company grow and prosper!

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