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Using the BAR to Find Candidates

March 12, 2013

hiring 134052134Before you jump for joy and tell your boss you’re researching potential candidates at the nearest watering hole, please read on. Although I love a good happy hour, we’re not talking about that kind of bar. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it’s worth saying again:

Past behavior is usually a good predictor of future behavior.

Consider the old adage: “A zebra doesn’t change its stripes.” This old adage is true. For the most part, people tend to exhibit the same types of behaviors consistently over time.

For example:

  • If you have always been meticulous about keeping your car clean in the past, there is a very good chance that you will keep a clean car in the future.

  • If you are notorious for showing up late, no one will be surprised when you are late for the next meeting.

Whether it is interpersonal style, safety on the job, problem-solving ability or any other behavior, finding out what a candidate’s pattern of behavior has been in the past will provide a good indicator of the type of future behavior to expect. One of the most basic aspects of behavior-based interviewing is the importance of obtaining a specific and complete example of a candidate’s past behavior during the interview.  When a candidate has answered past behavior questions with all parts of the situation, we refer to this as completing a “B-A-R”: Background, Action and Result.

Background: The situation in which the candidate displayed the behavior

Action: What the candidate actually said or did in the situation

Result: The outcome of the situation

In order to get the most information as possible on a candidate’s past behavior, you need to make sure that the potential candidate is giving you all three pieces of information and, if they aren’t, you’ll need to ask probing questions to get that info. When trying to gather past behavior information from a potential new employee, just remember the BAR – and not the one with delicious drafts and fruity drinks… 

For more information on interviewing, download our Interviewer Tips & Best Practices eBook

Interviewer Tips

Danielle Desko Danielle Desko is a Marketing Manager at PSI.