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Why Behavioral-Based Interviews Improve Your Hiring Strategy

June 27, 2017

What do you get when you pair an interviewer who isn’t using a structured, behavioral-based interviews with a sarcastic job candidate?  This:


I’ll admit, this comic made me laugh. There are very few job candidates who would have the audacity to respond to questions like this. But think about the role of the interviewer - as interviewers, we want to encourage honesty, but, just as important, it’s our role to gather the right information that will help inform hiring decisions. The best way to get this information is by conducting structured, behavioral-based interviews in the hiring strategy.


Structured, behavioral-based interviewing allows interviewers to gather specific work-related examples of a candidate’s past behavior by asking structured, job-relevant questions. These types of interviews are over two times more effective at predicting job performance as unstructured interviews. 


Related: Behavioral-Based Interview Training


Within a structured, behavioral-based interview, the interviewer asks specific questions that measure competencies that were determined to be important through a job analysis for the target role. Since these questions target the competencies that are critical for success on the job, the interview guide adds structure to ensure interviewers always ask questions on these relevant competencies. Sticking to the questions in the guide also ensures interviewers will get a full view of the candidate’s profile, while conversely, asking off-the-cuff questions could reduce the consistency of your interview process.


In a structured, behavioral-based interview, the questions ask about past behavior because we know that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance. We want to know how candidates have behaved in similar job situations to get an understanding of how he or she may respond in a similar future situation. Asking situational questions (e.g., how would you respond in this situation vs. how did you respond in that situation), is not as informative because we want to know about actions they have taken previously and not how they would be inclined to behave. Intentions do not always lead to behaviors.


Aside from gains in accuracy, using structured interviews can reduce your company’s likelihood of being legally challenged. In a review of federal court cases involving various selection devices, unstructured interviews were the most frequently challenged step in the hiring process. Companies were found at fault in almost half of these cases. Alternatively, in the few cases in which a structured interview was challenged, the decision was in favor of the company 100% of the time.


Convinced yet?


Now, I recognize some people may be concerned that structured, behavioral-based interviews will be too structured and come across as unnatural. However, most guides are written based on conversations with job content experts to make the questions very relevant to the position and natural for the role. Additionally, it’s still important in structured interviews that you build rapport with the candidate in the beginning of the interview. Doing this not only eases anxiety but can also encourage honesty from the job candidate.


So, while the majority of people reading the cartoon might think, “I’ve always wanted to respond that way!” (And, I’m not disagreeing that I thought that, too…) and not think anything more of it, there are lessons learned from the opposite side of the table. Make sure you ask the right questions of the candidate so those thoughts don’t cross the job candidate’s mind and you get the right information from the candidate.

Interviewer Tips

Alissa Parr, Ph.D. Alissa Parr, Ph.D. is a Senior Consultant at PSI. Her areas of expertise include the development, implementation, and evaluation of assessment processes. Alissa has experience managing entry-level through executive level assessment and selection efforts across a number of different industries including government, financial, military, education, healthcare, and manufacturing.