The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

Interviewing New Hires: How Would a Candidate REALLY Act?


Hiring a top employee may be the most important business action you take. When that candidate is going to determine your sales or operational success for the foreseeable future it’s even more critical. Yet many hiring managers leave the interview to gut feel, and insist they’ll know the right candidate when they see him or her. Really?

There are interview questions that can drive home the traits you are looking for in your next hire. They are termed behavioral interview questions because they ask a candidate to describe for you how they have behaved in the past when faced with a situation similar to one you face during your work day. They force a candidate to really describe what they are all about. When you ask a typical open ended questions, such as “How would you handle a return that was against our policy” the candidate can give you the answer they know you want to hear. However, with a good behaviorally based question, they would have to tell you exactly how they have handled this situation in the past which in turn will help you understand real action a person will be likely to take in your organization.

Ask interview questions that put people into the situation you have in your environment, and ask how they have acted previously. A great behavioral question will include the following components:

What is the SITUATION or task at hand?

What ACTION did the candidate take?

What were the RESULTS of the action?

This type of questioning will help you to understand how the candidates will act and react in a given situation. You can, and should, still interview to understand the cultural fit between the candidate and your team – but use behaviorally based interviews to go one step further. One online article provides what they consider to be the top 10 behavioral interview questions. I can’t promise they are the top 10 – but they are very good examples of this line of questioning.

Lori Kleiman’s book: HR You Can Use! Answers to the 5 Issues Keeping Business Owners Up at Night has a supplemental toolkit that will help you craft behaviorally based questions that are a great fit with your organization.

And don’t forget when creating interview questions to be very careful of the legal requirements. All questions must relate to the position and not be discriminatory in nature.

Managers often see an interview as a time consuming task – and it is. But when done right it can drive value to your bottom line.

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