Behavior-Based Interviewing (Part 1)

Learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century.


The proliferation of books and consultants ready to prep candidates for the traditional interview process has many employers working on getting away from the “usual”  questions.  Ask any candidate worth his or her salt what her greatest weakness is, and you’re likely to get a response that goes something like this:

 “I sometimes struggle with getting too involved in my work.  I have to force myself to take time off and relax occasionally.”  Surely a weakness any potential employer could live with.

With traditional interview questions becoming stale, many recruiters believe that behavioral-based interviewing  (BBI) is the key to predicting how a candidate would perform on the job and fit into the organization. The driving concept behind BBI is that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.

BBI has been around since the late 1970’s.  Industrial psychologists studied the effectiveness of traditional interviews and concluded that they aren’t very effective in predicting a candidate’s ability to do a job. The questions are often hypothetical. Job candidates end up giving hypothetical answers that sound great but aren’t a true representation of what they would do in real work situations.

An example of a traditional question might be: “How would you address an angry customer?” It isn’t difficult to figure out what the interviewer probably wants to hear, so candidates end up saying something like, “I would politely ask them to tell me the problem, then I would offer my assistance in solving the problem.” That doesn’t sound too bad, but it doesn’t represent what someone would “actually do” in that situation.

The primary difference between traditional and behavioral based interviewing is that traditional interviewing asks generalized questions such as, “What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?” while BBI asks for specific examples from the recent past, such as: “Give me an example of a time recently when you needed to adjust quickly. What did you do and how did it turn out?”

 Next:  How to handle the BBI.  Structure your answers for maximum impact in your next interview.

2 thoughts on “Behavior-Based Interviewing (Part 1)

  1. […] over your resume and your accomplishments. Plan out some of the answers or themes you want to develop during the interview. Review the job posting; prepare some ideas […]


  2. […] that allow a candidate to answer theoretically instead of providing examples of past behavior.  Behavior-based interviewing solves some of that problem by changing questions from “How would you handle this issue” to […]


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