How to Incorporate Behavioral Interviewing Techniques

Female business professional smiling during a meeting

Job interviews are innately demanding, as applicants strive to make a positive impression and companies try to determine the most qualified candidate. Time is limited and the stakes are high, so experienced hiring managers often use a combination of interviewing techniques to make sure they’re identifying the best person for the job.

Behavioral interviewing, used by Fortune 500 companies and many others, requires candidates to respond to job interview questions with specific examples of past experiences rather than generalized or hypothetical responses. The practice is based on the belief that past performance is the most accurate predictor of future performance and in fact is said to be 55 percent predictive of future on-the-job behavior compared to traditional interviewing, which is only 10 percent predictive.

However, hiring experts caution that utilizing behavioral interviewing techniques shouldn’t come at the expense of developing a genuine dialogue that helps employers and candidates really get to know each other. The most effective recruiters view behavioral interviewing as one of many tools, using questions about past experiences in a thoughtful way to establish an authentic connection and encourage discussion of core values and goals.

Getting the best interview results

To develop an effective behavioral interview, you need to make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of your company’s values and guiding principles. Using that information, you can determine which questions or exercises will reveal the candidate’s skills and behaviors in relation to your goals.

Beginning an interview with broader queries about education and experience and then easing into the more difficult questions can help relax a candidate and yield better results. It’s important to remember how stressful interviewing is for most people,” notes Mikey Wheeler, director of operational services at Aerotek. “If someone is terrified, you may not be able to get a true sense of all that a candidate can bring to you and your team. Don’t just jump in to the behavioral interviewing — clarify the interview process and let them know what they can expect.”

Once you’ve established a comfortable rhythm, you’re more likely to get substantial and informative replies to your behavioral questions. This provides a benefit to you as well as the job applicants, who will feel that their time was well spent and leave with a positive image of your company.

Ensuring fair and equal standards

When conducted appropriately, behavioral interviews use the same job-related hiring standards for all candidates and give every qualified candidate a fair and equal chance to be selected. David M. Persson, director of business operations for Aerotek, agrees. “It provides a great framework to help make sure I’m engaging in consistent ways with each candidate. “However, successful interviewing is also about genuinely getting to know the person we’re interviewing and giving them an opportunity to know me and my team. We don’t just want people who can speak to values on a poster, we want people to feel our core values come to life in their interactions with us. Bringing genuine interest, curiosity and appreciation to each interview is essential for us as a practice in modeling our core values and leading by example from the very beginning.”

Creating authentic, successful teams

Behavioral interviews are the first step in a longer term strategy to create authentic, successful teams that maximize the value of each new team member.

“The key to creating high-performing teams in your company is continuously cultivating connections. During behavioral interviewing, you can observe how each person connects with you and others as well as the company’s core values and identity,” notes Meghan Kahn, senior manager of Aerotek's Office of Diversity & Inclusion.

“Once on board, new employees know that they are valued and appreciated for their individual strengths, but also connected to something that everyone in the company shares and is proud to identify with. The interview is just the start of incorporating new talent in to the team, and making sure they’re genuinely excited about the company vision.”

Experts agree that behavioral interviewing can be an effective tool for ensuring that new hires share your company’s principles and objectives, a crucial step in achieving the highest level of culture fit – one that will help your company succeed in the long run.