How to Conduct a Strong Behavioral Interview

Behavioral job interviews are a key component of a successful hiring process. Here is my seven step process for conducting a successful behavioral job interview. You will see how crucial it is not to allow the candidate to get away with vague answers.

  1. Make certain your questions are clear, open-ended questions that require thoughtful (unrehearsed) responses. Do not ask questions that evoke a yes / no response.
  2. Ask questions that are RELEVANT to the job. Non-job related questions can waste your time and the interviewee’s time.
  3. Do not ask leading questions (those that guide the candidate toward a desired response).
  4. Make the candidate feel comfortable and at ease during the interview process, but maintain professionalism at all times.
  5. Listen for vague answers, opinions and those that signify future or hypothetical or theoretical actions rather than actions specifically taken by the candidate. Examples:
Behavioral Interview Questions Guide

6. Listen for specific tasks performed by the candidate (under what circumstances), specific actions taken and specific results achieved.

7. Ask appropriate secondary questions to drill down in those areas that require additional clarification.


Question Generated From Our On-line Assessment: Describe the last time you experienced a big change in the workplace, like a new set of procedures for selling, for example. How did you feel about those changes?

Secondary Question: What specific action did you take to embrace the change or redirect the team toward a better approach?

Question Generated From Our On-line Assessment: Tell me about a high stress situation in which it was desirable for you to keep a positive attitude. What happened?

Secondary Question: How have you handled situations that you haven’t been in total agreement with? How have you balanced positive response with honesty and objectivity?

  1. Watch for eye contact, body language and thought processing as indicators of confidence, sincerity, canned answers, openness, maturity and emotional intelligence.
  2. Document the results of the interview:
    1. Be complete and thorough, but don’t over document. There is no need to document when he/she smiled, tipped her head to the side, folded her hands, etc.
    2. Document information that directly relates to the job responsibilities and indicators of the candidate’s ability to perform them satisfactorily. Example: responded to questions regarding client management with confidence and provided thorough examples. List one or two.
    3. Be sure to document the results immediately following the interview. Results can easily be incomplete, misrepresented, or associated with the wrong candidate.
    4. Be sure to document the kind of questions the candidate raises during the interview. Do they reflect interest in the job, the company, the position or interest in salary, benefits and upward mobility?
    5. Be careful about using letters (A,B,C, or numbers 75, 85, 95) to evaluate the interviewee’s performance during the interview. You may be called on to defend these numbers and demonstrate consistency. It’s hard to do, particularly when there is more than one interviewer in involved.

Weighing the Candidate Results:

The best candidate evaluations are those that include several factors in the selection process. Factors may include the following:

  • Resume
  • Application Form
  • Background Checks
  • References
  • Interview
  • Skills Testing
  • Assessment Results (job match); developmental considerations (should never represent more than a third of the decision process.

Customized Interview Questions

Of course you can always get interview questions from a book or create your own, but our assessments generated interview questions customized to the candidate and the job. This is the perfect way to uncover and explore weaknesses that can lead to problems in the future.

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