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INTERVIEWING RESOURCES

VI.  Interviewing Techniques

Traditional Interview

This is the most common type of interview. This interview format consists of a series of questions that may or may not be standardized.  The traditional job interview uses broad-based questions such as: "why do you want to work for this company," and "tell me about yourself."

Behavioral Interviewing

Behavioral interviewing is based on the premise that past performance is the most accurate indicator of future performance.  Behavioral interview techniques are used to evaluate a candidate's experiences and behaviors in order to determine their potential for success within a particular position. The interviewer first identifies desired skills and behaviors relevant to the position being filled.  Secondly, the interviewer structures open-ended questions to elicit detailed responses.  This is the most widely recommended method of interviewing.

How to Conduct an Effective Behavioral Interview

Interviewer should :

  • Identify what is required of an employee in the available position.  Use the position description to help describe the requirements of the position.

  • Determine the required outputs and performance success factors for the job.

  • Determine the characteristics and traits necessary to succeed in that job. If you have employees successfully performing the job currently, consider the traits, characteristics, and skills they bring to the job.

  • Make a list of questions, both behavioral and traditional, to ask each candidate during the interview. A structured list makes candidate selection more defensible and allows you to make comparisons between the various answers and approaches of your interviewees.

  • Hiring managers may perform phone screening of the candidates whose qualifications have caught your attention, if necessary, to further narrow the candidate pool.

  • Schedule interviews with the candidates who most appear to have the behavioral characteristics, along with the skills, experience, education, and the other factors you would normally screen for in your resume review.

  • Ask your list of behavioral and traditional questions of each candidate you interview.

  • Narrow your candidate choices based on their responses to the behavioral and traditional interview questions.

  • Select the candidate with behavioral characteristics that match the needs of the job.

Sample behavioral questions:

It is recommended that the interviewer present a scenario to the candidate:

  • “We frequently must explain policies and procedures to students or staff who sometimes do not understand or agree with what we are telling them. Tell me about the most difficult or frustrating time you experienced in explaining something to someone (a co-worker, student, applicant, or customer).”
    • When did this happen?
    • What were the circumstances leading up to it?
    • What was being explained?
    • Was the outcome successful?
    • What contributed to the success (or failure)?
  • “Occasionally an office machine you are using may break down. Tell me about the last time you had this happen to you.”
    • What type of machine was it?
    • What was the problem?
    • What action was taken when problem was identified?
    • Was there anything that could have been done to have prevented it?
    • What procedures/instructions did the supervisor have for dealing with these kinds of problems?
  • “Tell me about a time you were unable to meet a goal set by your supervisor.”
    • What was the goal?
    • What prevented you from meeting the goal?
    • How did you approach your supervisor?
    • What was the outcome?
    • What did you learn from the experience?

Look for examples of strengths and weaknesses from the candidate’s responses. When your impression of the applicant becomes too one-sided, ask questions that will give you a more balanced picture.

  • Example: “You have told me about your ability to be decisive. Now tell me about a time when you had difficulty making a decision”.

Page updated on February 2014 by Tom Falloreta

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