Many managers don’t ask the right questions when they are interviewing for new team members.
Even experienced managers get caught in the trap of talking too much and asking superficial questions.
Behavioural questions are best for recruitment interviews
Recently, during a coaching session with a manager, we discussed the managers efforts in recruiting a new team member to join his group of four office staff. The role required some degree of ability to cope with technical information, the ability to calm frustrated field staff as well as making decisions about priorities for client requests.
And because it is a small team the addition of one new person is a significant change. So it was important for him to make the right decision.
From our discussion it became apparent the manager was not asking the right questions to determine how capable the candidate was. And he spent too much time telling the candidate about the company and the particular role – too much talking and not enough asking.
And the questions he did ask were mainly about qualifications with a few cursory questions about their previous roles.
Nothing was asked to get the candidate to explain:
- How they went about doing their work
- How they resolved problems or challenges
- How they handle disgruntled staff, or
- Their experience in setting and juggling priorities
… all of which were important aspects of the role they were being interviewed for.
Because he hadn’t asked good questions, and hadn’t had productive interviews, he wasn’t very confident in his feelings towards the candidates.
Past behaviour is the best indication of future behaviour
Many managers try and be polite when conducting interviews. Mistakenly they avoid asking questions that might be potentially awkward for the candidate. But that is leaving too much room for doubt.
You don’t want to base a decision on letting someone join your team as a permanent employee on the basis of one 15-minute interview (in which you did the talking for 10 minutes). It’s a good idea to have at least a 2-step interview format that gives you the opportunity to meet with the best candidates a second time and get to know them even better.
Behavioural questions require the candidate to explain
By asking behavioural questions you encourage the candidate to explain more about how they go about doing their work, and how they think about the work they do.
The candidates answers to behavioural questions will give you a much better insight into how effective and productive they will be on your team. And because of the level of detail required in their answer it is much more difficult for candidates to lie or misrepresent their actions.
Examples of behavioural questions for interviews include:
- Tell me about a time when you provided outstanding customer service. What was the situation and what did you do?
- Tell me about one of your most challenges situations dealing with frustrated staff members and how you resolved the situation?
- Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty to get a job done.
- When was the last time you had to learn how to use new technology or software and how you went about doing that?
- Describe a situation you’ve experienced that required some finely tuned communication skills. What was the situation and what did you do to reach a satisfactory outcome?
- Describe a situation when you were able to strengthen a relationship by communicating effectively, and what made your communication effective.
- Describe a time when you worked effectively in a team. What was your role, and what did you do to help the team achieve its goal?
- When you have a number of priorities to manage how do you prioritise tasks and organise your time?
- Tell me about a time when you had to analyse information and make a recommendation. What kind of thought process did you go through? How did you know to approach it that way?
- Tell me about a situation in which you had to adjust to changes over which you had no control. How did you handle it?
- Have you done any research on our business, such as reading our website? From what you know about our business/industry how do you think your skills and experience will be beneficial for us?
NOTE: Of course questions should be tailored to suit your situation, so it’s worth taking time to develop a list of behavioural questions that will give you the best insights into the candidate.
Have a solid Position Description for the role
It’s also worth noting that the interview questions should be based around the requirements of that specific role/position. That means you should have a thorough Position Description (or Job Description) created for the role.
A good Position Description will not only cover the basic tasks of the role but also KPI’s and Critical Success Factors. If you need help to develop effective Position Descriptions contact us.
Be prepared to ask more
As part of your behavioural question technique be prepared to probe the candidates initial answer by asking follow-on questions such as:
- And how did that make you feel?
- What was the outcome of that?
- When you think about that in hindsight would you do it differently next time? Why?
- What were you thinking when you were doing that?
- Then what happened?
Not only do behavioural interview questions help you as the manager get a deeper understanding of the candidate and their abilities, it helps to ensure the right candidate joins your team – which is a great outcome for both you and the candidate.