Behavioral Interviewing Method for Employers – Ch. 3

Behavioral Interviewing can be a big challenge for many employers in your hiring process.

Candidates often present answers that are either vague or overly rehearsed,  which does not really give an accurate picture of how they would perform on the job. 

How do you drill down to the core, and get the specific information you are looking for?

The answer is through using the behavioral interviewing method. Understanding how it works allows you to more effectively screen your candidates to help you recruit top talent.

In this chapter, we have curated top tips from our hand-picked “panel of experts” to help you learn all about behavioral interviewing — why it’s effective, how to implement it, and what to look for when conducting them.

What is the Behavioral Interviewing Method For Employers?


TalentLyft shares: “behavioral-based interview is an interviewing technique which employers use to evaluate a candidate’s past behavior in different situations to predict their future performance.”

“With a behavioral-based interviewing method, potential employers ask the candidates open-ended questions about specific situations they encountered in the past and then, depending on the answer, probe to gain better and detailed responses. This results in better hiring decisions which lead to a lesser cost.”

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Why Use Behavioral Interviewing?

Reason #1: It’s the most accurate predictor of future performance

SHRM BlocksTag KO

SHRM shares: “The premise behind behavioral interviewing is that the most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in similar situations.”

“To evaluate this most effectively and fairly, the main interview questions are delivered to every job candidate with the same wording, in the same order, and using the same scoring system. Because of this, the behavioral interviewing technique can take a great deal of effort and planning before an interview can ever take place

Beyond their structured approach, there are additional benefits to using behavioral interviews. Because behavioral interviews are based on an analysis of job duties and requirements of the job, bias and ambiguity are reduced because candidates are evaluated on job-related questions. Also, job-relatedness and consistency of the interview process may increase the perception of fairness among candidates. The job-related questions may also help candidates obtain a realistic perspective of the job. 

The following is an example of a behavioral interview question:  

  • Describe a situation in which you used persuasion to convince someone to see things your way.

If answers seem to be thin on detail, the interviewer can ask follow-up questions:  

  • Can you tell me a little more about the situation?  
  • What exactly did you do?  What was your specific role in this?  
  • How did this turn out?  
  • What other challenges did you come across? 
  • What did you do to address those?”

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Reason #2: A bad hiring decision is costly

Taylor Varco

Taylor Varco shares: “the cost of making an uninformed hiring decision does not just cost you a tangible dollar amount. ”

“Yes, there will be a loss in productivity, but employing a below-average employee can also leave a bad impression with existing clients, promising new prospects, and internal employees. All intangible, but strong reasons to avoid the situation. Behavioral interviewing is a preventative method to help ensure you’re hiring the right fit for your company.”

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What Should You Be Looking for in Behavioral Interviewing?

Ameet Ranadive

Ameet Ranadive shares: “Behavioral interviews help you understand the how. ”

“How does the candidate get things done, collaborate with others, and make decisions? Do they make values-driven decisions, and if so, what are those values? I like to use behavioral interviews to assess whether this candidate has the character, fortitude, and collaboration skills to lead teams and drive impact.

In our recent exercise to standardize our interviews, I was assigned the task of creating the behavioral interview. As I reflected on what I typically assess when I try to recruit people, here is what I came up with:

  • Confidence and presence
  • Mission minded (impact)
  • Empathy and influence
  • Growth minded”

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STAR responses

Matt Krumrie

Matt Krumrie shares: “what should employers look for in candidates’ responses to behavioral questions? At least four elements, easily remembered by the STAR acronym. ”

“1. Specific situation: Candidates need to include the particular setting and details of the circumstance. Example: “The most difficult problem I’ve encountered at work so far occurred about three years ago when I had just been promoted to Sales Director with twelve people reporting to me. They were spread across ten states working remotely, and there was no sense of camaraderie or teamwork….”

2. Task(s): What exactly was the piece of work to be done, or challenge to overcome? Ideally the candidate describes the mission or desired goal. Example: “Despite distance and unfamiliarity with one another, my responsibility was to build a cohesive productive sales team who excelled in open communication, cooperation, and trust, while meeting quota.”

3. Action: Listen for the action verbs which describe what the person actually did in the situation to accomplish the task (or not). What behaviors did they demonstrate? Example: “I recommended that management approve funding for a quarterly in-person meeting with my team. When they were reluctant to do so, I produced a cost-benefit report showing the return on investment, which persuaded them to agree…”

4. Results: What was the outcome of the person’s actions? How did their behavior determine the consequences? Who gained or grew from the experience? Example: “After three quarterly meetings across nine months, every team member had already exceeded their quota for the year. They attributed their success to the regular face-to-face meetings which enabled them to get to know one another, earn mutual trust, share leads, learn best practices, and collaborate on deals. The company experienced a 30% boost in sales and management now realizes the importance of facetime when it comes to building effective teams.”

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How to Conduct Behavioral Interviews for Employers

Tip #1: Encourage candidates to provide specific details

SHRM BlocksTag KO

SHRM shares: “The interviewer should encourage candidates to provide specific details when responding.”

“…asking questions that pull evidence about the candidate’s achievements, how they responded to challenges, and how they differentiated themselves. Also, candidates should answer questions in terms of what they as individuals specifically did, not what was accomplished as a team (e.g., “when X happened, I did Y to complete the goal” rather than “when X happened, we did Y to complete the goal”). 

Although structured, behavioral interviews can be a bit flexible as well. The individual conducting a behavioral interview should use probing questions to dig deeper into a candidate’s responses, based on verbal and non-verbal cues. Typically a behavioral question will trigger 3-4 probing questions based on the candidate’s initial response.”

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Tip #2: Choose your questions strategically

1200px Glassdoor logo

Glassdoor shares: “it’s important to strategically choose your behavioral interview questions”

“Because your time with each candidate is limited and you want to find out the most relevant information about their experiences, it’s important to strategically choose your behavioral interview questions. To focus your behavioral-based questions, think about them in relation to job function and culture, and values.

Look at the job description and determine key competencies required to successfully perform the role. What knowledge, skills and abilities does the position require? Pick out 3–5 areas of focus.

Because your company has a unique culture, it’s worthwhile to ask candidates behavioral questions that will indicate if they could thrive in your workplace. Look at your values list and think about how they translate into behavior. Then craft questions based on that behavior.”

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Tip #3: Use probing questions appropriately

When using behavioral interviews, many candidates often provide answers that feel vague or rehearsed. 

There are many reasons why candidates don’t provide complete answers: 

  • They aren’t familiar with behavior-based questions. 
  • They may be more introverted and need time to provide complete answers. 
  • They are used to speaking in a more general sense. 
  • They are looking to avoid discussing a specific topic.

Your job as the interviewer is to focus on specifics: ask for a situation and drill down on the actions and results. 

For example, if one of the key skills for a position is “conflict resolution” then you might ask something like:

Tell me about a situation where you had to deal with an angry co-worker? How did you approach it? Was anyone else involved? How did you work with them to resolve the situation? What were the results?

Remember, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Thorough follow-up questioning is the key to finding out whether the candidate has the necessary skills you are looking for.”

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Tip #4: Seek repeated evidence that shows a pattern of behavior.

Interview Edge

Interview Edge shares

“Take time to get the complete picture. It’s important to know the combination of a candidate’s strengths and limitations. The competencies you’re looking for don’t stand alone and need to be considered in relation to all of a candidate’s qualities. For example, someone who has strong analytical skills can lose much of that advantage if they are not also decisive.

Seek repeated evidence that shows a pattern of behavior. This is far stronger than a single example and requires you to cover multiple jobs or periods.”

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How to Create a Rating Scale

Workforce Logo

Workforce shares: “at the time questions are developed for the interview, the team works out a rating scale for a continuum of possible answers”

“Here’s one example of an interview question with an accompanying rating scale. Note that these are not multiple-choice questions. Only the interviewers see the suggested responses following the question.


When reviewing a title search for a potential building site, you come across a reference in a recorded document to ‘other unrecorded covenants’ related to a subject property. What do you do in reporting on the condition of the title?


Try to discover the nature of these unrecorded covenants and report the reference you found first to your company and then, with permission, to your title officer.


Ask someone in the title office what to do.


Ignore the reference entirely because it refers to unrecorded title information.”

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The behavioral interviewing method for employers is crucial because they allow you to drill down to the core of the candidates’ track record of demonstrated behavior, to give you further validation and confirmation as to how closely they align with your ideal candidate profile.

QUESTION: As a hiring authority or CEO/business owner what is your favorite behavioral interview question you like to ask? Share your comments and questions below:


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