You've got a line-up of really strong candidates for that open position on your team. How can you be sure you pick the best person for the role? A bad hire will cost you time and wasted effort, and worse, could destabilise an already high-performing team

Behavioural-based interviews allow hiring managers to assess a candidate’s performance as a result of questions that delve into detail about their past experiences, for example, how they have handled tricky situations or difficult people. (And if you're a candidate, here are five interview mistakes you should never make).

Here are three key areas you will need to think about during a behavioural-based interview: Technical skills, culture fit and attitude. Before the interview, make a list of essential attributes that the successful candidate needs to possess, and tailor the following 9 questions around these areas.

Technical skills

Depending on the level of the role you’re recruiting for, you will almost certainly be looking for evidence that the interviewee has past experience in something similar. You need to know that they are up to facing the challenges of the position.

It’s important to recruit someone with the right level of skill — too inexperienced and you will need to train them. Conversely, an over-experienced employee may be bored on the job and not stay long.

Here are some examples of behavioural-based questions that can help you uncover a candidate’s skills:

  • Question 1: Tell me about a complicated work related problem you’ve had to deal with. How did you tackle it and what was the result?
  • Question 2: Tell me about your best work related achievement over the last 12 months. What skills did this involve and how did it benefit your organisation?
  • Question 3: Think of a project or situation where you made a mistake. What happened, how did you rectify the problem and what did you learn from it?

Culture fit

Gaining an understanding of how your candidate behaves in certain situations is key to determining whether they will be a good fit in your team and the organisation as a whole. In some cases, it is easier to identify the type of person who won’t be a good culture fit for the organisation.

During the interview you will need to ask questions about how the person interacts with direct team members, broader colleagues and managers.

Here are some behavioural-based questions to test your candidate’s cultural fit:

  • Question 4: Tell me about the most difficult person you have worked with, what did you do about it and what was the outcome?
  • Question 5: Describe the best manager you’ve ever worked for. How did that person influence your performance in the work environment?
  • Question 6: How would you describe your ideal work environment? What kind of company culture do you most enjoy being part of?

Evaluating attitude

Positive attitudes are infectious and a great asset to any team. People who also have a strong work ethic are particularly admired in the workplace, so it’s important that you recruit someone with the right attitude to work and someone who won’t be a drain on everyone’s energy. Often if employers have two people with the same qualifications and experience to choose between, the person with the most enthusiasm and excitement for the role will come out on top.

Here are some behavioural-based questions to help you assess a candidate’s attitude to work:

  • Question 7: When have you accomplished something you didn’t think was possible? Tell me about the situation and how you achieved it.
  • Question 8: Describe for me a situation where the poor efforts of a colleague reflected negatively on you. How did you handle it and what was the outcome?
  • Question 9: Tell me about a time you’ve pulled the team together. How did you influence or build morale?

Sharpen your hiring processes by finding out how to attract the top performers in your industry and writing job descriptions that work.

The author, Howard Chan, is a seasoned recruiter who started his recruitment career with Michael Page in 2004. He is currently the director for Retail and Sourcing, Procurement and Supply Chain, Sales, Marketing and Digital with Michael Page Hong Kong. He can be contacted here.

Summary

Behavioural-based interviews raise the applicants past experiences in order to gain insights into their performance. The three areas you should assess are

  • Technical skills
  • Cultural fit  
  • Attitude

Your questions should be tailored around the essential attributes for the role and how the applicant has displayed these qualities in relation to the above areas.

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