Why do many smart, successful professionals fear and dread the process of hiring? Why do some employers find themselves continually making mistakes in their hiring decisions? Research tells us that most of these mistakes involve the interview, where people often make snap decisions based on gut feeling, intuition, prejudices or hurry-up-and-fill this-job pressure. Another common error is simply to ask the wrong questions, which fails to elicit the information needed. So how can interviewing be made more effective?
Behavior-based interviewing is a tried and true method of questioning that elicits information about past job behavior. According to Richard S. Deems, PhD, author of Interviewing: More that a Gut Feeling, “The single best predictor of a candidate’s future job performance is his or her past job behavior. How do we know this is true? Because it’s been proven in thousands of actual job situations for more than two decades.” Behavior-based interviewing is not a new fad, but rather a carefully researched method of assessing a candidate’s true fit for the job.
A behavior-based interview is a structured interview with open-ended questions designed to assess the candidate’s ability to fulfill the specific job skills required. The questions are designed to ask for examples of behavior in previous jobs, which can illustrate the candidate’s ability to perform the current job requirements and how he or she might fit with the organization’s culture.
Questions can be designed to assess not only technical skills, but also non-technical competencies such as emotional intelligence (EQ), people’s capacity for recognizing their own feelings and those of others, monitoring themselves and managing their emotions. The following are three examples from a behavior-based interview: 1)Tell me about a specific process that you implemented or changed in your current or past position and how you did it; 2) Think of a particular time on the job when you were proud of how you coped with a stressful situation; 3) Describe a time you solved a technical problem by troubleshooting. Contrast these questions to other typical interview questions you may have heard or used, such as 1) We need an innovative person here. Are you able to make process improvements? 2) This can be a stressful job. How do you deal with stress? 3) Are you good at troubleshooting problems with Excel?
Note that the latter three questions may allow for generalized or hypothetical answers, so a good salesman could sell himself to you even without having the sub stance you need. Consequently, they are less effective than questions asking for specific past job information
There are several key elements to questioning success fully in behavior-based interviews. The first is to listen carefully to the answers and probe to get complete information. It is important to learn not only what the candidate did in a certain job situation, but why he did what he did and what the result was. Be aware of answers that are not specific and keep re-asking questions to get full answers.
There are many advantages to using behavior-based interviewing: past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior; the interviewer obtains specific information about job-related skills; the interviewer controls the interview; it is easy to stay within legal limits, since the questions are job-related; answers are a good indication of candidates’ communication and listening skills; candidates feel they have been treated fairly and professionally; candidates maintain self-esteem; the process can be used to assess technical skills as well as function al and EQ skills; and the interviewing style can be adapted easily for all job types and levels.
Of course, there is more involved in the hiring process than just the interview. The first hurdle is finding the candidates to begin with, which may involve steps like placing a career center on your website. There also needs to be a process for reviewing resumes and verifying backgrounds; some companies use additional performance tests or written assessment tools. Finally, employers need solid negotiation skills when they make job offers and final hiring decisions.
Although the hiring process may seem time-consuming. the investment up front ultimately saves time and resources. Good hiring decisions that fill your team with top talent will vastly improve your business.
Analyst Jim Collins shared the following discovery about successful companies in his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t “They first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats and then they figured out how to drive it.”
by Judy Fox Brandt
Judy Fox Brandt is the principal of Fox & Company, a human resources
consulting firm in Orange County, California For guidelines, sample and follow-up questions, please call 949.721.8320
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