Behavior Based Interviews

By Joe Stein

The New Style Of Interviewing…Behavior-Based
What do you think is the best way to prepare for an interview?
1.                   I study a company’s financial performance.
2.                   I research a company’s past history.
3.                   I prepare answers to expected questions.
4.         I investigate the available position.
5.         I “wing it”.
            The world of interviewing is rapidly changing. The savvy job seeker will find themselves adapting to the growing trend in interviewing; “behavior-based interviewing”.
            It was not too long ago that interviewers used the “gut feeling” method of interviewing. Using this method, an interviewer engaged in conversation with the candidate and then used their “judgment” to make a decision. Oftentimes, this method resulted in an inconsistent interviewing structure with biased decision-making. I’m sure all of us have heard the “old-school” theory that you know whether or not someone is the right candidate in the first five minutes of an interview. 
            Amazingly, it took as long as it did for Human Resources professionals to decide to create a better way of interviewing. The growing trend is to develop a systematic format in which interviewers ask specific questions designed to focus on a candidate’s skills and past performance. The theory being that a candidate’s past behavior is the clearest indicator of his/her future behavior. 
            So how does a job seeker prepare for a behavior-based interview? The answer is in preparation. Expect interviewers to ask you specific questions regarding topics such as displaying strong decision making with multiple options, or demonstrating leadership in a difficult situation. Write your anticipated questions down and prepare your answers. A good interviewer will not allow you to generalize, so come prepared with specific instances.
            Don’t be afraid to rehearse your interview. Use the mirror and a tape recorder (video camera is even better) if a friend or relative is not available. Prepare answers to the point where you feel comfortable and relaxed, not nervous and rehearsed. A complete interview for a non-exempt position is approximately one hour, while an exempt (salary) position interview usually will run 1.5-2 hours.   Plan accordingly and have enough positive examples to fill this allotted time.
            Looking for a few behavior-based questions you may encounter. Well here are a few that I have been known to ask (remember I can not give away all of my secrets).
o        At one time or another, everyone is pressured to sacrifice quality in order to get work done on time. Tell me about a time that this happened to you (What did you do?)
o        When you have been really busy at work or under a lot of pressure, what actions have you taken to ensure safety was not compromised?
o        Describe a situation in which you saw a problem and took action to correct it rather than wait for someone else to do so?
Remember, a savvy job seeker is the most prepared candidate. By expecting a behavior-based interview and preparing accordingly, you will place yourself in a position to succeed in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of website visitors. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
Joseph Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional
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