On average, only one in five hires turn out successfully. The effect of a bad hire is not just lost productivity and money, but it can also reverberate through company profits and overall team morale. To combat this, many teams are overhauling their onboarding processes and training programs, but often it can come down to the interview. Interviews can be a delicate dance—great candidates might be nervous, poor candidates may come across as highly competent—so it’s important to examine the way you engage your interviewees at the table. Be careful not to place too much focus on experience and your “gut feeling” about a candidate. Instead, use questions to suss out your candidate’s problem-solving skills, grace under pressure, and how they learn from difficulties. Rather than hard skills, focus instead on behavior and potential.

Defining Behavioral Questions

Behavioral questions are a valuable tool to gauge a candidate’s future performance. Rather than hard skill sets — which can be trained — behavior is an innate quality that goes beyond ability and into potential. Questions that isolate past behavior, like how they handled a stressful situation, rebounded from a lost sale, or dealt with a difficult client, are a good insight into how your candidate can process and work through challenging scenarios. Behavioral questions that pinpoint situations similar to ones they can expect in the role for which they’re interviewing will give you a good idea of how they would handle conflict as it arises in this position. To do this, ask questions that gauge:

  • How they would implement their knowledge to solve problems
  • How their ability helps them navigate difficult situations
  • How their skills allow them to be agile in uncommon scenarios
  • How their temperament guides their decision-making

Why Behavioral Questions Are Important

The thing about asking candidates questions about their skills, experience, and education is that you already have their resume in front of you. Most of what you want to know has already been recorded for you. Behavioral questions help you target how your candidate might handle day-to-day workload and challenges, navigate relationships, and learn from mistakes. Rather than asking questions about projects that were successful or what their strengths are, dig deeper to understand how those things help them to determine what comes after success. What do they do once they’ve discovered a good workflow or process? Do they teach it to their colleagues? Perhaps they can tell you about their weaknesses or a project they struggled with and what they learned from it. How did it affect their work after that? Behavioral questions allow you to get a better understanding of their personalities to see how skill affects the way they perform their job and how they work with others.

Resumes can only tell you so much about a candidate. @CaliperCorp demonstrates why behavioral interview questions are crucial during #hiring: Click To Tweet

Most importantly, behavioral questions help you move beyond demeanor. It’s easy to be charmed by a candidate who is confident and can articulately speak to their strengths and the expectations of the role. Asking them questions about their past behaviors, however, allows you to get a better understanding of how they’ll behave in similar future scenarios. You can uncover patterns of friction or peacemaking with coworkers, frustration or temperance with clients, and see how they apply what they learn along the way. Behavioral questions help the interviewer see beyond an impressive demeanor and get to what really matters.

Get the Most Out of Your Interviews

Listen Well

The first thing your interviewers should be doing is listening. Steering the conversation is important, but talking too much means you aren’t getting the information you need to best evaluate your candidates. Listen intently—and take notes. You’ll likely be seeing many candidates in a day over a period of several days. In order to best remember answers from candidate to candidate, take note of what they say and your thoughts about the specifics of their responses. The more time that passes, the less accurately you can compare answers and what you thought of them. Revisit your notes and consider: Did they answer with specific examples? Did the answer relate well to the question? Were their answers thorough and thoughtful?

Compare to a Personality Assessment

Don’t rely solely on the interview to gauge your candidate’s behavior. Adding a scientifically-back personality assessment will paint a more detailed picture of your candidate’s potential. The Caliper Profile is validated against calibrated job models to match specific traits to necessary job functions. Using assessments such as this gives you reliable, qualitative data against which you can compare your interview notes to how they answer questions when no one else is in the room. Personality assessments are a great tool to dive more in-depth into your candidates’ behaviors and motivations.

Did you know? Only 1 in 5 hires turn out successfully. @CaliperCorp lays out why you should be asking behavioral questions during your #interviews: Click To Tweet

Speak With References

Don’t discount references. Take the opportunity to speak with former supervisors and coworkers to get a feel for what the candidate is like to work with. Instead of asking questions like, “Are they capable?” and “Would you hire them again?” inquire about what they were like to work with, how they managed their projects, and what their team dynamic was like. Pinpoint their working style and office interactions over whether or not they were competent. References are a unique opportunity to see inside the office and get a feel for what your candidate will actually be like as an employee.

Weigh All Aspects Equally

Understand that no one aspect of the interview process can give you a clear-cut answer as to whether or not to hire a candidate. There’s no magic solution. But, by using all the tools at your disposal, you can start to paint a clearer, more well-rounded picture of each candidate. Take your interview notes, personality assessment, and reference feedback and put them together for a holistic view of your candidate as a potential employee. You shouldn’t totally discount your gut feeling, but these three aspects of your interview process should back up that feeling. If they don’t align, you can look to the data you’ve compiled from multiple sources to see why things may be amiss.

For more information on The Caliper Profile and how Caliper can help you fine-tune your interview process and select the best possible candidates, reach out to our experts today to get started.