The premise that an individual's past performance most accurately predicts his/her future performance is the basis of Behavioural interviewing.
Most large organizations employ the Behavioural Based Interviewing approach to select Co-op students and new employees. A Behavioural Based question is designed to examine the applicant's past behaviour in situations similar to those that comprise the prospective job duties. Employers assess three key performance predictors in the interviewee's
answers: technical ability, behaviour or performance skills, and personal preferences.
A Behavioural Based response requires you to provide specific examples of past events that demonstrate your skills and abilities. You must also provide accurate references to names, dates, numbers, times and locations. This approach allows employers to obtain information that is authentic; in addition, the employer gains insight into your probable future performance.
Key Performance Skill Areas
Employers consider at least seven key performance skill areas when conducting a Behavioural Based interview:
* ability to influence others;
* interpersonal skills and competence;
* ability to grow and adapt;
* communication skills;
* level of commitment and motivation;
* organizational ability; and
* problem solving and decision making
Behavioural Based Question Examples
Your ability to influence others: Tell me about a time when you were able to overcome resistance to your ideas. Describe the situation. Who was involved? What was the outcome?
Interpersonal skills: Tell me about the most frustrating person with whom you have worked. What made this experience difficult? How did you resolve the situation with this person?
Ability to grow and adapt: Tell me about the last time you were criticized by a supervisor/professor? How did you respond to the criticism? Do you feel the criticism was valid? What did you learn from the situation?
Communication skills: Tell me about a time when you had to work hard in order to fully understand what another person was saying to you. What was the situation? What was the outcome?
Level of commitment and motivation: Describe a time when you faced obstacles in reaching your objectives. What were the obstacle you encountered? What did you do to go around or remove them?
Organizational ability: What do you do to ensure that you meet project deadlines? How do you monitor and track your progress? How satisfied are you with your system of controls?
Problem solving and decision making: Tell me about the most difficult problem or decision you have faced at work. What was the situation? How did you decide what action to take? What was the outcome?
Building a Behavioural Based Question
An employer will go through these steps when developing a Behavioural Based Interviewing question:
1. Skill analysis: employer analyzes skill sets necessary for position described.
2. Listing of critical skills: skill set is evaluated and ranked in order of importance.
3. Behaviour analysis: behavioural characteristics required of the position are noted.
4. Conclusion: question is developed around the skills and behaviours required of the job.
Preparing for a Behavioural Based Interview
The key to a successful Behavioural Based Interview is preparation. Thorough preparation requires you to complete several tasks:
* Research the company;
* Analyze the job description for which you are applying;
* Break the job description down into skill areas;
* Rank the skills in order of importance;
* Prepare ten Behavioural Based questions; try to anticipate what the employer may ask, based on the skill set described in the job description; and
* Prepare concise answers that include examples. Rehearse your answers aloud. Use examples from work experience; school; University; volunteer work; sports and extra curricular activities.
Employers evaluate your behavioural based answers throughout the interview and upon completion of the process. Different scales are used; however, employers generally rank responses from "high" to "low" in order to assist them in choosing the right candidate for the position.
The following source was consulted during the writing of this section:
"Behavioral Based Interviewing - Critical Skills for Employers and Educators" CEA/CCEA Joint Conference, San Diego, CA April 6, 1997
Presented by: Sharon Cobb, North Dakota Stae University, Fargo ND; Randy Dostal, Hutchinson Technology, Hutchinson, MN; Mark Van Beusekom, McGladrey & Pullen, LLP, Minneapolis, MN.
- What have your detractors said about you in previous roles? Why?
- Detractors normally concentrate on behavioural strengths. One person's strength being a weakness in someone else's view.
- What is the worst mistake you have made in a previous role? What happened? What could have prevented it?
- We learn more from our mistakes. It is our ability to learn from them that sets good performers apart from poor ones.
- What kinds of people have frustrated you?
- The mirror image of the detractor's question. This question tells us something about the values of the interviewee.
- What would your previous subordinates say about you? Why? Tell me about one that really did not like you? Why? What did you do about it?
This question tells us something about their management style and their ability to influence. "Subordinates" may be replaced by "superiors".
A five part series of questions to pull out both the skills the interviewee believes they possess, their strategic and tactical thinking capabilities and their self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses.
- What are the key results that must be delivered in a restaurant that wants to have a "five star" reputation?
- Tell me about your experience driving the achievement of these results in the past?
- What were the key risks? Why? How did you mitigate them?
- From your past experience, what personal skills do you have that will help you achieve the results here?
- From your past experience, what personal qualities do you think you might need help with?
As well as listening for content, watch body language and listen for the tone and pace of voice for genuine passion for their achievements and how they achieved it. Validation can also be achieved through checking named contacts who worked with them in the role they referenced in their response.
- Tell me about the restaurants you have worked in. What was good about them? What was bad about them?
- The knowledge of what it takes to run a good or great restaurant will show through.
- What is your favourite restaurant? What is the best food you had there? What did you like about it? What wine did you have with it?
- The undeniable passion of a "foodie" should shine through. Their knowledge of food, wines and combining the two should be obvious.
- Here is a copy of our current menu. From your previous experience, what wines would you recommend for us to stock, to complement the dishes you like the most?
Their level of ability to match wine with food based on ingredients and preparation will be clear.