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Behavioral Interviewing


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  • [Mention that I will email presentation to anyone who provides a business card.]This presentation is about a specific interviewing technique called behavioral interviewing, which is currently a best practice in the HR field. It is just one piece of the total hiring process, in addition to resume screening, checking references, other components, and even gut instinct/intuition.How many of you hire people?How many of you have made a bad hire?This technique isn’t going to keep you from ever making a bad hire again, but it will significantly improve your odds for making good hires, and the quality of your hires.Has anyone heard of this technique before?Is anyone currently using this technique?
  • What does “defensible” mean?
  • Do you want your chances of hiring the right person to be 70% or 20%?
  • This is a small subset of any number of possible behaviors.
  • This is a position that many organizations/industries seek to fill.These are five PM behaviors identified by a previous audience.
  • What is an open-ended question?
  • You’ve already determined they have the 3-5 years of PM experience you’re looking for; you’re trying to find out if they’ve done the things you need in those 3-5 years.What are you communicating to a candidate if you answer the phone during an interview?Be mindful of all the social graces.Why do you need to ask all the candidates all of the same questions?Pleasantly and positively insist - make notes, take a sip of water, smile encouragingly, but you must indicate that you won’t accept as an answer “Oh, I’ve never had that sort of problem.”
  • Probing also helps you determine when a candidate is not telling the truth.
  • You may ask if the person is legal to work in the U.S. You may also ask if the candidate has ever been convicted.
  • If you find that you are doing most of the talking, you must examine your interview style, because you are not doing a good job and you won’t make an effective hire.Why allow the candidate to ask questions only after you have asked yours?
  • Not “I would” but “I did.”
  • You are a responsible for making this technique work. It is not easy and takes some practice.If a person struggles in this kind of interview, they may be nervous, but it also reflects on how they will handle difficult situations with their coworkers and your clients.
  • Why are we going to go to all the trouble of identifying behaviors, preparing questions, and feeling uncomfortable?
  • And “Tell me about a time you had to make a decision” won’t cut it! That’s certainly a place to start, but we’re looking for more creativity here!
  • [If they suggest a yes-no question, be sure they rephrase as open ended.]
  • [Be sure they alternate with the different ways to start a question.]
  • [Encourage those who haven’t spoken yet. Be patient and encouraging!]
  • Asking behavioral questions about technology is a bit more difficult, but can be done. Don’t just ask, “Have you used X?” because that tells you nothing.
  • Final tip: balance the positive and negative in preparing your questions, and resist the tendency to lean too heavily on the negative.
  • Many books and resources are also available on behavioral interviewing, with examples of behavioral questions.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Getting the Right People in the Right Seats on the Bus:Behavioral Interviewing
      Kim Vitray, SPHR
    • 2. Behavioral interviewing
      Based on the assumption that past performance is the best indicator of future performance
      Asks probing questions about specific critical incidents in the candidate’s past that demonstrate behaviors necessary for job success
      Focuses on job, not personality
    • 3. Why behavioral interviewing?
      Improves your chances of selecting the right candidate 2 to 5 times over the traditional process
      Accurate, cost effective, and defensible
      Is a selling tool
      Has a validity (predictive ability) rate of 70%
      Reduces bias
    • 4. Why not traditional interviewing?
      Candidates are vetted against each other instead of the job
      Determining that a candidates has the skills/knowledge doesn’t mean they can/will use them
      Has only 19% validity
    • 5. Behavioral theory
      A behavior exhibited in one circumstance will be exhibited in other circumstances as well
      The more recent the past behavior, the more likely it is to be repeated
      The more often the behavior was demonstrated over time, the higher the probability it will be repeated in the future
    • 6. Create a behavioral profile
      Create a profile of behaviors that allow a person to be successful in that job
      Ask top performers:
      How they learn new things
      How they detect and solve problems
      How they make decisions
      How they communicate
      What motivates them personally
      How they solve conflict
      How they organize their work
    • 7. Glossary of behaviors
      Administrative skill Listening skills
      Analytical skill Negotiation skills
      Business acumen People development
      Coaching Problem solving
      Communication Process improvement
      Creativity Quality orientation
      Customer service Resourceful
      Decision making Risk taking
      Delegation Strategic thinking
      Initiative Teamwork
      Interpersonal skills Technical skills
      Leadership Time management
    • 8. Project management behaviors?
      Decision making
      Problem solving
      Time management
    • 9. Develop questions
      Develop questions that will elicit information about a candidate having exhibited those behaviors in the past
      Use open-ended questions
      Tell me about a time when…
      Give me an example of…
      Describe for me…
      How did you handle a situation where…
      What did you do when…
    • 10. Interview
      Select only candidates whom you’ve already determined have the right skills, education, and experience (or almost!)
      Make arrangements to be undisturbed
      Put the candidate at ease
      Ask all candidates all of the same questions
      Take notes
      Probe all responses until you can seethe critical incident play out likea movie in your mind
      Be comfortable with silence, patiently awaiting and encouraging responses
    • 11. Probing
      Tell me about a time when you were under a great deal of pressure to deliver on time.
      What did you do to get the work done on time?
      What were the possible consequences you were concerned about?
      What was the outcome?
      If you were faced with a similar situation in the future, would you deal with it the same way or differently?
    • 12. More probing
      Describe the most effective team that you were part of or led.
      What was your role exactly?
      Were there any extraneous circumstances?
      Did you have any other concerns?
      When did this occur?
      What did you find most challenging?
      How did you overcome those challenges?
      Why did you consider it the most effective team you’d ever been a part of?
    • 13. Even more probing
      Describe a time when you had to choose between product delivery and quality.
      What were some of the obstacles you encountered?
      How did you deal with those obstacles?
      What was the final outcome?
      What did you learn from the situation?
      What feedback did you get from others?
      What were the consequences?
    • 14. What you may not ask
      If it’s not job related, don’t ask!
      Race, color
      Religion, creed
      National origin, citizenship
      Sex, marital status, child care
      Name, age, birthplace
      Criminal history
      Military service
    • 15. You have a very unusual name. German ancestry?
      Can you think of anything that would prevent you from being to work on time?
      You’ve stated that you have three children. Since you brought it up, will your family obligations prevent you from overnight travel?
      Have you ever been arrested?
      Tell me about the advantages anddisadvantages of team assignments.
      Are these legal?
    • 16. Other interviewing tips
      Do far more listening (80%) than talking (20%)
      Ask all the questions, but let the discussion unfold naturally
      Allow candidate to ask questions after you have finished asking yours
      “We’ll make an offer to the person we choose based on their skills and experience”
      Close by telling them what will happen next
    • 17. Typical evasion
      Claims has either not had such an experience or can’t think of an example
      Be patient, encouraging
      Refuses to link answer to a concrete time and instead gives a theoretical response (doesn’t use past tense)
      Insist on a specific critical incident
      Makes role in group effort unclear (uses “we” instead of “I”)
      Ask “What was your involvement?”
    • 18. Take responsibility
      Reassure the candidate
      Restate the question using different words
      Stress that you’re looking for a description of a specific situation
      Be sympathetic but persistent and patient
    • 19. Why go to all this trouble?
      The cost of a wrong hire is 1 to 2-1/2 times that employee’s annual salary
    • 20. Sample questions—decision making
      Describe an unpopular decision you had to make.
      Tell me about a decision you came to regret, and why.
      Give me an example of a time when you had to make an important decision with limited facts.
    • 21. Sample questions—problem solving
      Tell me about a time when you had to analyze facts quickly, define key issues, and respond immediately.
      Describe for me a situation where you may have missed an obvious solution to a problem.
      Give me an example of when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
    • 22. Sample questions—resourceful
      Tell me about a time when you had to handle a kind of project that you hadn’t handled before.
      Give me an example of when you had to learn something new and produce results on your own.
      Describe a problem, issue, or concern that you handled in a unique, creative way.
    • 23. Sample questions—teamwork
      Tell me about your most successful team project, and the role you played in it.
      Give me an example of a project that did not go well and how you may have contributed to its problems.
      Describe your most recent team experience.
    • 24. Sample questions—time management
      Give me an example of when a project under your direction was late and how you dealt with the issue.
      Describe your current projects and how you keep them scheduled for on-time delivery.
      Tell me about a time when you had to balance competing priorities and did so successfully.
    • 25. Sample questions—risk taking
      Describe a situation where you heard of a new technology and implemented it.
      How do you determine if a plan is worth the risk of rocking the boat?
      Give me an example of when you weighed the pros and cons of a risk and decided to take it, and why.
    • 26. Sample questions—technology skills
      I see you have worked with X technology. Tell me about its features and benefits.
      Give me examples of how you adopted X technology into your process or your organization.
      How do you stay current in your field on new or evolving technologies?
    • 27. Sample questions—customer service
      Tell me about a time when you had to go the extra mile to support an internal customer.
      Describe a situation when you had to handle a customer complaint.
      Give me an example of when you made a lasting, positive impression on a customer.
    • 28. A great resource!
      Society for Human Resource Management
    • 29. QUESTIONS?
      Kim Vitray, SPHR
      8609 Karling Dr.
      Austin, TX 78724 USA
      512-928-0859 (home)
      512-658-8587 (cell)