Here’s How You Need to Upgrade Your Behavioral Interviews

By Steve Squier

You would be hard pressed to find a candidate today who isn’t familiar with and prepared for a behavioral interview. A behavioral interview is based on the premise that past performance predicts future behavior. It’s designed to elicit information about how candidates handled a past challenge and the behaviors and decision-making process that went into it. A classic example of a behavioral question is: “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer.” If you’ve been hired in the last 20 years, you’ve probably been asked that.

A Google search for “behavioral interviewing” yields 6.4 million results. Candidates research and rehearse for the most common questions and may even be able to drill down to the specific questions your hiring managers ask via “reviews” from recent candidates on social sites.

Time for Behavioral Interviewing 2.0

You’re limited as to what you can learn about a candidate if they are merely reciting a rehearsed story. Past performance is still critical information to know. But past performance isn’t the be-all, end-all to the uncertain challenges of the future. The challenges we faced five years ago are not the challenges we face today and they won’t be the challenges of tomorrow. Success yesterday does not equate to success tomorrow. Given this, what we really need to learn from past performance is not actually what the candidate did, but why and the way that they did it. This information is useful, but it still doesn’t tell you how the person will address a new challenge. And today, more than ever, a candidate’s ability to innovate is critical to tomorrow’s success.

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