Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Behavioral interviews as an effective tool for evaluation and screening

Posted in HR and personnel by Timothy Platt on February 17, 2010

Yesterday I posted a note on behavioral interviewing from the job candidate’s perspective and I said in that, that I was going to post on this topic from the hiring manager and Human Resource department perspective as well.

I outlined basically what behavioral interviewing is in my earlier posting, and this one is going to focus on bringing this approach into effective focus for evaluating and screening candidates for a specific position. If you fail to prepare for conducting behavioral interviews with a consistent, focused approach any results you obtain will simply mislead you.

• Start with the job description and build from there to create a set of realistic scenarios where your ideal candidate would be expected to identify specific problems or opportunities and manage them.
• Select scenarios that would call for specific hands-on skills, but be sure to provide opportunities for the candidate to demonstrate their ability and ease in working with others.
• Be specific and focused with some questions but ask more open ended questions too.
• Ask questions related to more routine situations and job requirements.
• Always go beyond the routine with at least one line of questions, to find out how the candidate thinks on their feet where standard routine is not enough and where it is necessary to step beyond the average day to day routine. Be realistic here, but find at least one situation to explore that would be challenging too.

I like to think and plan in terms of case study analysis when developing systems that meet real world customer needs. This applies to everything from web site experience development to help desk support systems review – most any situation where employees and customers (internal or external) meet to resolve issues and satisfy needs. This same approach applies here in interviewing job candidates behaviorally.

• Be flexible and ready to ask unplanned questions in following through with a specific candidate, based on conversation with them to that point.
• But start out with a set of basic scenarios and case study models in mind that you can ask all candidates in an interviewing process.
• Be ready with a standard set of opening questions for each of your evaluation scenarios.
• This increases the chance that you will cover the same important points with all of these candidates for that position, and with a measure of consistency in how you do so.
• That will help you review and compare candidates in picking your top choices, and according to a consistent standard.

Behavioral interviewing comes apart when it is done ad hoc and differently for each candidate and with little if any consistency as to what is covered.

• You want to see how these candidates think on their feet.
• You need to see how they would do that in the specific context of working with you and your team, and in fulfilling the responsibilities of the specific position they are applying for.

As an added bonus, preparing your core scenarios that you will raise in your interviewing process can force you to reevaluate the job responsibilities and priorities for that position and bring them into clearer focus. This process also and perhaps more commonly helps bring candidate experience and background requirements into sharper focus too – an area where greater focus and clarity is often needed. So start preparing for interviewing your job candidates as part of the due diligence of preparing the job description and candidate requirements that you will post.

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  1. […] interviews from the candidate’s perspective and yesterday I turned the table on this to examine this same set of issues from the hiring manager and HR department perspective. The goal of this posting is to explore this dual perspective more widely as it impacts upon and […]


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