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30th Oct, 2023

Jack Ireland
Jack Ireland
Job Title
Content Marketing Executive

Recruiting the right people is key to organisational success, but how can you ensure you are selecting the best candidates for the job? One way is to use behavioural interview questions, which are designed to bring forth specific examples of how candidates have performed in past situations that are relevant to the role they are applying for.

By asking these types of questions, you can gain insights into candidates’ skills, abilities, attitudes, and personality traits, while gauging a better understanding of how they align with your organisation’s values and goals.

What are behavioural interview questions and why are they important?

Behavioural-based interview questions are questions based on how an interviewee acted in a specific situation they experienced in their previous or current roles. They require interviewees to describe a situation they faced in a previous role or project, how they approached it, what actions they took, and what results they achieved (usually referred to as the STAR method).

These types of questions prove popular as they allow you to evaluate a candidate’s competencies, while being able to evaluate their past performance and behaviour. For example:

  • Tell me about a time when you had to work under pressure. How did you cope and what was the outcome?

  • Give me an example of a project that you ran or contributed to. What was your role and what did you achieve?

  • Describe a situation where you had to deal with a difficult customer or colleague. How did you handle it and what did you learn from it?

By asking behavioural interview questions, you can begin to understand where an interviewee’s skills lie, including problem-solving, teamwork, communication, and leadership, and pinpoint those that are essential for your job vacancy.

Developing and utilising behavioural based interview questions effectively

To develop and use behavioural interview questions effectively, it’s essential to create structures and guidelines to your processes, as this will help you to analyse and evaluate your methods throughout.

In order to ensure you’re finding the right fit for your business, consider the following:

Identify the key competencies for your role or organisation

These are the skills, abilities, knowledge, values, attitudes, and personality traits that are essential for success in the role you’re recruiting for or your organisation. You can use job descriptions, performance reviews, feedback surveys, or competency frameworks to help you identify them.

Focus on using open-ended questions

These types of questions usually start with “Tell me”, “Give me”, “Describe”, or “Explain”, as these words encourage interviewees to provide detailed and specific answers, rather than short answers.

  • Tell me about a time when you had to work to a deadline.

  • Give me an example of a project that required collaboration with different stakeholders.

  • Describe a time where you had to deal with a difficult situation.

  • Explain how you approach problem-solving in your current role.

Use probing or follow-up interview questions

These are additional questions that ask candidates to clarify, elaborate, and provide more information about their answers, allowing you to dig deeper into an interviewee’s responses. They can help you verify candidates’ claims, while exploring their thought processes and understanding their motivations.

They include questions like:

  • How did you decide on that course of action?

  • What were the main challenges or obstacles you faced?

  • How did you measure or evaluate your success?

  • How did you handle feedback or criticism?

Throughout the interview process, it’s important to listen actively and attentively to their answers. You can use verbal and nonverbal cues such as nodding, smiling, or paraphrasing to show your interest and understanding.

Improving interview outcomes and hiring accuracy

Interviews will always be beneficial when it comes to improving hiring accuracy for many roles, but while behaviour-based interview questions can help reveal the character as well as the skills of the interviewee, be aware of your own behaviour, as interviewer, to prevent biased personal opinions from influencing organisational decisions.

Prepare and plan your interviews and question lists in advance

Try to have a clear and consistent interview structure, agenda, and criteria for each role and candidate. Before the interviews take place, consider reviewing the candidates’ resumes, cover letters, and any assessment results, and prepare a list of relevant and tailored interview questions for each competency.

Conduct structured and standardised interviews

You should use the same set of interview questions for all candidates applying for the same role and ask them in the same order and manner.

Structured interviews are vital because they can help you to collect reliable and valid data from the interviewees, as well as reduce bias and increase fairness in the recruitment process.

Avoid common interview biases

When it comes to conducting interviews, you can try your best to remain objective, but biases can tend to sneak in. These are cognitive or emotional factors that can influence your judgement and perception of candidates, and lead to inaccurate or unfair hiring decisions.

That’s why it’s so important to be aware of the different types of bias so you can recognise and actively avoid them. Check out the seven different types of common interview biases here.

Assess and rate candidate performance

Employers should assess and rate candidate responses to behavioural questions by using a consistent and objective method that measures the candidates’ skills and abilities in relation to the job requirements. One possible method is to use a rating scale and a rating guide for each behavioural question, and provide constructive feedback and justification for their decisions.

The power of AI in recruitment

Interview processes, from start to finish, can be time-consuming and challenging to prepare, conduct, and evaluate. As the role of artificial intelligence (AI) grows, it may be worth considering using AI tools to help you streamline and optimise your hiring process.

AI could be used to screen CVs, evaluate candidates, and generate interview questions.

If you want to save time and effort in developing interview questions, you can use our AI-powered interview question generator tool. Just enter the job title you are recruiting for, the level of seniority, the sector, and the top-three skills you are looking for in the perfect candidate, and let AI do the rest.

Try our AI-powered interview question generator here.

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