Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hiring the Right Person: The Art of Developing Behavioral-Interview Questions

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If you want a list of questions to ask candidates during a job interview, one can easily type the term "job interview questions" into their favorite search engine. However, unless those job interview questions are structured a certain way, studies show that flipping a coin to choose between two candidates is almost as reliable as basing your hiring decision on a candidate's performance during a job interview. (1) If you want to hire the right person for the job, use the following guidelines for developing good interview questions that reveal the competencies most important for advancing your organization's goals!
Decisions about who to hire should not be based only on the job interview. The job interview is one step in a process that may include background checks, pre-employment tests, etc. Although the value of the job interview is limited, they have been shown to validly assess the following:
a. Personal relations skills: sociability, personal interactions, communication and conflict resolution skills
b. Citizenship: dependability, conscientiousness, stability and perseverance
c. Specific job knowledge: strengths and future training needs.
Effective interviews give the interviewer information that allows them to assess the candidate's competencies and ability to fit into the organizational culture. The following techniques will help you develop questions that will be specific to your organization's needs!
The Art of Developing Behavioral-interview Questions:
The best strategy for developing good interview questions is to reflect upon the "best" and "worst" performing employees, past and present. The answer to the following questions, based on exit interviews with supervisor feedback, will help identify questions that will bring out those competencies you desire:
  1. What qualities do your best employees possess?
  2. What distinguishes your high performers from your low performers?
  3. What interpersonal skills do they possess?
  4. Why have you had to terminate employees in the past?
  5. What types of issues do people tend to receive disciplinary action for?
  6. What do coworkers complain about when it comes to employees?
  7. What areas on the job description do employees seem to have the most difficulty with?
Once the top qualities desired for the position have been identified, you can develop questions that will allow you to assess whether the candidate has those qualities and whether they have employed certain skills in the past. This "behavioral-interview" technique stems from the theory that the best predictor for how people will perform in the future is how they have behaved in similar situations in the past.
Behavioral interview questions are helpful for gaining insight into "people skills", which are very difficult to "train" employees on. These skills include conflict resolution, problem solving and receptivity to constructive criticism. The behavioral interview allows the interviewer to gain insight into the person's personality and history of employing certain skills. Employers are able to find a candidate with a good "cultural fit" to the organization and minimize the likelihood that they'll have to terminate a candidate after they have been hired! It's best to have a "structured" interview format, so that you ask the same questions to all candidates, allowing you to make accurate comparisons between candidates.
Sample Behavior-interview Questions:
  • "Even the best teams don't get along all of the time. Can you think back to a time when the team you worked on didn't all "click" and get along? Tell me what happened and what was done or should have been done to make it better."
  • "Can you think back to a time when you worked with an angry customer? What was the problem and how did you handle it?"
Effective interview questions increase the chances that you hire the best candidate for the job. Wrong hiring decisions can lead to expensive hiring, training and turnover costs. To tailor questions to your organization, identify those competencies that are most valuable and then develop behavioral-questions that will bring out situations when these competencies were employed by the candidate. Remember that it's always easier to train an employee on specific job tasks but much more difficult to train employees to have a personality that fits your organizational culture. Don't find job interview questions on your favorite computer search engine! Develop them based on your organization's needs and you'll be more likely to hire the right person!


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