The Benefits of Behavioral Interviews


If there was a way to statistically measure corporate culture compatibility, businesses around the world would do a lot less firing and enjoy much higher retention levels.

Recruitment is easily the most painstaking and time-consuming aspect of human resource management. A wrong hire can cost your company tremendous amounts of money, time, and in some cases, customer goodwill.

And that’s a lot of pressure on HR—especially if you’re a small business with an even smaller HR department.

Fundamentals of an Interview

The good news is that organizational psychologists, and human behavior analysts have made great strides the past few years, in terms of learning more about intrinsic motivators, emotional intelligence, core values, behavioral tendencies, etc., giving us a plethora of tools to increase our chances of making a good hiring decision.

Standard interviews may not be the surest way to find your dream candidate—but by employing the right techniques, you can significantly improve your chances of identifying “the one”.

Contrary to popular opinion, a great interview doesn’t involve a lot of questions. It involves the right kind of questions.

If you’re expected to fill a position on an urgent basis, asking a lot of questions may even backfire, as you rush through the interview to make time for a long list of candidates.

So, what are the “right” questions and how do they work?

Understanding Behavioral Interviews

Unlike traditional interviews that focus on general questions about the candidate’s professional experience, behavioral interviews paint specific work-related scenarios and probe the writer for experiential information.

Why probe?

Because responding to specific work-related situations from the past gives you insight into attributes and character—something that puts a candidate’s claims and CV to the test.

By asking questions about former situations, the interviewer may identify “behavioral competencies” that help you determine if he or she would adapt to your business environment or simply struggle to fit in.

For example, many people list ‘problem solver’, ‘multi-tasking wizard’or ‘excellent communication skills’ on their resume. These are all terrific (and often amusing) areas that you can test for in behavioral interviews. Create a scenario where you give them the opportunity to actually DO what they say they can do so well.

Behavioral Interviews ask that they SHOW you how they would react in a certain situation, as opposed to simply telling you how great they are.

Behavioral vs. Traditional

While traditional interviews are known to be more conventional and straightforward, their relative success rate remains rather low.

You are asking candidates questions that they are expecting, and most decent candidates typically have canned answers for the majority of standard interview questions. Of course, they are going to paint themselves in the best light possible, by telling you how they excel in specific areas.

Particularly telling, traditional interviews are said to be 10% predictive, compared to behavior-based interviews that are proven to be 55% predictive.

This is because behavior-based interviews are carefully structured in order to evaluate crucial attributes such as leadership, adaptability, teamwork, sense of duty, critical thinking and integrity, among other areas.

In many cases, HR professionals resort to the STAR method to assess behavioral competencies. This means designing questions according to situation, task, action and result.

Remember: interviews aren’t just a chance to get to know a candidate. It’s an invaluable opportunity to personally identify what they can bring to the table.

One of the most critical factors in making a good hiring decision is deciding what specific traits and skills are needed for a role BEFORE conducting your first interview.

By investing the time to be crystal clear on what you need, and then formulating behavioral based interview questions that will allow you to TEST a candidate’s skills in those key areas, you can dramatically increase your chances of a successful hire.

International Search Consultants is an executive recruitment firm, offering US as well as global headhunting services for the following 4 areas of focus: Financial Services, Sales (primarily Software and Medical Device), Real Estate Development and Acquisition, and Human Resources.

We employ the latest and most effective interviewing techniques to make sure that the candidates at your interview table aren’t just worthy of your time and attention—they’re worthy of a job at your organization.

For more information, please visit us at WWW.ISCJOBS.COM,

Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is President of International Search Consultants, a leader in Executive Search since 1999. You can reach Ann directly at or via phone at 888-866-7276.