Sometimes the deciding factor between two potential job candidates is how they will behave on the job. This is why behavioral interview questions are so common during a job interview. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to ask these questions. To save yourself time, avoid asking questions that fit into these five categories. In some cases, they won’t give you any useful information; and in others, they can leave the potential candidate questioning whether or not they want the job. Always keep in mind your goal during this part of the interview: to learn who the candidate is as a person and how they might react to incidents on the job.
Be Specific Instead of Hypothetical
If you’re lucky, then the hypothetical “what-if” question that you’ve chosen to ask will hit upon something your candidate has been through or done before. If you’re not, then you could face a quick made-up answer which gives your candidate the opportunity to lie and exaggerate. Unless you’re looking for those kinds of qualities, then you’re better off asking a question more geared toward the sort of job you are hiring for. That doesn’t mean to avoid asking “what-if” all together, just be more specific. Ask a question about something that could really happen in the job you’re hiring for, and be sure to ask follow-up questions. When you give your candidate the opportunity to clarify certain aspects of their answer, you gain more information and can weed out potential falsifications.
Ask About the Extraordinary Instead of the Ordinary
Give your candidate the opportunity to put his or her best foot forward. If you really want to ask the interviewee to describe a time when they dealt with an angry customer, go for broke and ask about the toughest customer they dealt with. Ask about the hardest multistage project they managed or have them describe a situation where they exceeded expectations on the grandest of scales. Asking superlative behavioral interview questions about a candidate’s education or work history has much more impact than asking about ordinary or common occurrences. The gain for you is that you can see where your job candidate places the highest importance, and your job candidate gets to showcase their best efforts.
Only Ask Questions Which Inform You
You may be working from a template provided by your company. This can save you a lot of time, but be sure to go over it thoroughly before the actual interview begins. You want to avoid any questions which do not inform you about the candidate and their potential to fit into your open position. This means tailoring existing behavioral interview questions to the job at hand. For example, don’t ask about how a candidate has handled customer support if you want to hire them for a position in information technology. There’s no need to hide the kinds of problems that can come up in the position you’re hiring for; use examples you know have happened to improve your questions.
Leave Trick Questions Out
When you ask your job candidate how many kittens will fit into a top hat, you may get to see how they respond to unexpected stress, but you don’t learn much about their on-the-job behavior. So unless stuffing kittens into hats is part of the job description, just skip these types of behavioral interview questions. If you’re trying to test analytical skills, you’re better off asking how a candidate would compute a number when the necessary tools or objects aren’t available. You not only relieve the interviewee of the task of crunching numbers on the spot, but you also get a good idea of how they approach problem solving.
Balance the Positive and the Negative
Asking a lot of questions about how a candidate has handled negative situations casts a negative light on the conversation, and can make the candidate feel that they’re interviewing for a bad job. Just as you are interviewing your candidate, he or she is testing the climate of your office. Every behavioral interview question you ask should not be about handling bad experiences because not only will the interview get repetitive, it puts your candidate in a negative state of mind. Be sure to sprinkle in positive questions such as, “How have you improved upon a common work practice?” If you’ve followed this advice, you should have a good idea of your candidate’s behavior by the end of the interview. Choosing good behavioral interview questions goes a long way to finding that one person who’s perfect for the job. You don’t need a degree in psychology to put together a good interview, just remember to be specific, on topic and keep the negative balanced with a little positive. When you’re putting together your next batch of interview questions, don’t forget to use the resources here at Mighty Recruiter for inspiration.