Expert Commentary

Ask Behavioral Interview Questions

Traditional interviews leave companies susceptible to blind spots because they rely on hypothetical or subjective opinions. This creates the risk of hiring the wrong candidate. However, a behavioral interview will unlock reliable and measurable information about each candidate in order to hire the best fit.


Employee Hiring, Development, and Retention
January 2019

The key is understanding how to conduct this interview through advanced training on how to ask candidates behavioral interview questions. This will allow your hiring managers to collect evidence on each candidate's core competencies to understand whether the individual is a good fit in your organization and for the role for which they are interviewing.

Consider the following comparison of why your team needs to understand the questions they should be asking during an interview and how a behavioral interview ensures you hire the best fit for your job opening.

Traditional versus Behavioral Interview: Three Proper Questions To Ask

At some point in your career, you sat through a traditional job interview where the interviewer asked hypothetical or philosophical questions that had nothing to do with your work history or the role you were applying for. Asking hypothetical questions is a major blind spot for hiring managers. It shows a lack of preparation for the interview and a lack of understanding of how to determine whether a candidate is the best fit for the job opening.

Conversely, hiring managers who are trained in how to conduct a behavioral interview will walk into an interview prepared to unlock the past behavior of each candidate to predict a similar action in your company. The following are three examples of behavioral questions that your team should ask instead of traditional interview questions to avoid blind spots in the hiring decision.

1a. Traditional question—Do you consider yourself an organized person?

1b. Behavioral interview question—Tell me about a time when you had to use organizational skills in a previous role? What was the result?

The key difference between the two versions of this question is the candidate is forced to describe an actual event when he or she had to use organization skills. This will unlock past behavior to determine if the candidate is the right fit for the position.

However, if the interviewer asks the traditional form of this question, the candidate will try to present the best version of themselves. In other words, the person could convince themselves and your team that they are an organized person for the purposes of sounding impressive during the job interview.

This creates a blind spot when making a hiring decision because you do not have evidence to know whether the candidate is actually organized in a work setting.

2a. Traditional question—Do you consider yourself a personable person?

2b. Behavioral interview question—Tell me about a time when you had to use customer service skills to solve a difficult customer request? What was the result?

Companies that are hiring for a customer service opening can fall into the trap of taking the candidate at their word for being a so-called people person. Or, companies rely on a subjective opinion based on their "feel" for whether the candidate is personable. This is a major blind spot when hiring.

If your hiring manager did not ask the behavioral interview question in this example, you would have no way of knowing how the candidate handled a difficult situation in a previous work setting. Perhaps the reason why they are sitting across from your team during the interview is that they were unable to perform a similar customer service task in their previous company.

3a. Traditional question—What would you do if you had to communicate bad news to remote workers?

3b. Behavioral interview question—Give me an example of when you had to communicate bad news to remote workers in a previous work setting? What was the result?

When your company is hiring a director, executive, or manager, the traditional version of this question is dangerous. Any candidate can present a good version of their communication style and appear to be a good fit. Asking a behavioral interview question allows you to examine the candidate's actual behavior in a similar situation. Your team will then avoid the blind spot of making a hiring decision without evidence of whether the candidate has a history of communicating bad news to remote workers.

Instead, now you have evidence of how this candidate handled the task of communicating bad news to remote workers and the result of that communication. The answer will help your team make a more informed decision of whether the candidate is the best fit for an important leadership role.

Ask These Questions To Avoid Blind Spots When Hiring

The main difference between traditional and behavioral interview questions is understanding what the candidate will actually do if hired by your company. In other words, will this individual be able to complete tasks and assignments as part of their role?

If your team has not collected this evidence through behavioral interview questions, then you lack the means to determine whether the candidate is actually a good fit for the job opening.

A behavioral interview will give you those answers by focusing on the competencies that are relevant to the role you are hiring for. When you have evidence, you can make informed hiring decisions to find the best fit.

One example of how to implement this process is the ZERORISK Hiring System to ensure your team is trained on how to conduct a behavioral interview, what questions to ask to measure each candidate, and how to avoid blind spots when hiring.

Traditional interviews create a risk of hiring the wrong candidate. Understand why you should ask behavioral interview questions to avoid blind spots when hiring.


Opinions expressed in Expert Commentary articles are those of the author and are not necessarily held by the author's employer or IRMI. Expert Commentary articles and other IRMI Online content do not purport to provide legal, accounting, or other professional advice or opinion. If such advice is needed, consult with your attorney, accountant, or other qualified adviser.

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