Today’s competitive job market demands a new method of recruiting. Hiring managers have to be able to look beyond a resume and experience-based questions to really gauge a candidate’s character and see whether they truly embody qualities consistent with the company’s culture.
By incorporating behavioral-based interview questions into your hiring process, you gain a more insightful view of each candidate and are able to make a final decision based off someone’s full range of skills, experience and personality.
There are a lot of things to account for when interviewing candidates. First and foremost, people are usually nervous meeting face-to-face. In a hopeful employee’s mind, this is a “make it or break it” deal, and while some people will be putting their absolute best foot forward, others may find themselves tongue-tied and unable to truly demonstrate their value to you.
It’s your job to ensure that the company hires someone who isn’t just qualified to perform the job but also enhances office culture. You don’t want someone who will simply show up, work and leave. You need an employee who leaves an impression on their coworkers and truly contributes something unique to the workplace.
These 5 behavior-based interview questions lay an excellent framework for discerning a candidate’s strengths, weaknesses and strongest personality traits. Even the most nervous prospect will have the opportunity to showcase their potential by responding to these questions.
#1 – Can you tell me about an experience at a previous job where you didn’t get along with a coworker? What happened, and what action did you take?
It’s not uncommon to ask employees about how they’ve handled conflict in the past, but this question goes a step further by asking the candidate to recount a specific experience and describe specific measures they took to resolve a problem. The first factor you’ll want to consider when evaluating a candidate’s response is how they describe the coworker in-question.
Rather than speak in a derogatory tone or insult their past coworker, a good candidate will list the characteristics or actions the coworker took that displeased them. They will focus more on the problem and how they resolved it rather than how someone else caused it.
The ideal answer will demonstrate a candidate’s ability to maintain composure and come up with solutions to problems in unfavorable conditions. You will also be able to tell whether this person is more likely to seek out results in any situation rather than cast blame and ignore responsibility.
#2 – Can you describe a time you struggled to build a relationship with someone? How did you overcome it?
Communication is key, especially when you don’t see eye-to-eye with someone you have to work with. Whether it’s a customer, client or coworker, the ability to empathize and adjust social approaches is important in the workplace.
During a behavior-based interview, you should seek to understand how the candidate responds to a variety of social situations and how willing they are to branch out of their comfort zone.
If they had to work with a boss who wasn’t very affable, for example, they should explain how they went out of their way to find common ground, always be friendly and start conversations.
#3 – It can be a challenge to meet everyone’s expectations when you’re working with a high volume of clients. How do you prioritize customers’ needs?
This question provides a twofold look at the candidate’s behavior and values. First and foremost, you’ll be able to discern which qualities they find most important when it comes to customer service.
Second, you’ll get an idea for how well they multitask. We all know you can’t make everyone happy, and if a candidate is stretched too thin, a good response would demonstrate their willingness to go the extra mile and assist a client as well as ask for help when they’re overbooked.
A strong candidate will seek to provide optimal customer service independently, but they will also recognize an inability to fully meet a client’s needs and eagerly refer them to the best resource or personnel.
#4 – Tell me about a time you were under a lot of pressure. How did you adapt, and what did you learn from the experience?
This question assesses an ability to adapt. Flexibility is important when it comes to work, especially if you tend to have rotating responsibilities in a position. The candidate may share answers relating to their personal life or stick to their professional experiences. Either route is fine, but make sure they clearly identify a time that they were stressed.
Professional vulnerability demonstrates confidence and honesty; if they admit that they cracked under the pressure but can explain how they rebounded and now have a better understanding of their limits, great.
You can expect to hear a wide range of answers to this question including adopting personal coping strategies, reaching out to a trusted coworker or supervisor or even seeing a therapist and learning some new techniques for dealing with stress. The most important takeaway from this question is the candidate’s willingness to learn from tough situations and adjust their thinking and reevaluate their priorities as needed.
#5 – Tell me about an important goal you’ve set for yourself. How did you ensure you achieved it?
Time management is important, but so is personal growth. Rather than asking about how a candidate accomplished a work deadline (a situation most applicants have rehearsed), this question aspires to understand some goals that are important to the individual. Maybe they vowed to lose weight and came up with a diet plan and workout routine. They could have decided they wanted to accomplish more during the day and started identifying three main objectives every morning before work.
Based on the response to this question, you can learn more about what the client values in their own life and how well they’re able to effectively adjust and manage their time.
The Importance of Behavior-Based Interviews
Behavioral interview questions identify a variety of core strengths and values. A good candidate will be able to provide concrete examples of past work and personal experiences to highlight their strengths. The answers will demonstrate both capability and willingness to cooperate and adjust to new situations.
If you find that the questions take the client back, don’t be shocked. While behavior-based interview questions are becoming more popular, many applicants are still unfamiliar with them and tend to only practice the staple questions like, “Tell me about yourself” and “What makes you a good candidate for this role?”
Using questions like these will help you tailor your interviews to spotlight the specific qualities and values you need in a new hire. You’ll gain valuable insight into a candidate’s real work experience, their motivations and characteristics you can’t find on a resume.