Behavioral Interviews: The Basics
Potential employers use behavioral interviews to help them determine how job candidates will react to certain situations based on how they responded in past experiences.
How Behavioral Interview Techniques Help Employers
When an employer conducts an interview, his main objective is to make sure the person he hires can do the job. The best way to find out whether someone can do a job is to actually watch him do it. Generally, though, a prospective employer has to assess several candidates for an open position, and time is usually of the essence when it comes to making a hiring decision. In most cases, it would be inefficient to evaluate job candidates by actually having them do the job for which they are interviewing. Furthermore, since many people are currently employed while they are engaged in a job search, it would be difficult to schedule these “auditions.”
In lieu of actually trying out job candidates to determine which one is best for a particular job, what can an employer do? Many employers use a technique called behavioral interviewing, which relies on the theory that past behavior is a good predictor of future behavior. Specifically, this type of interview attempts to determine how the job candidate drew upon her competencies to handle situations on a previous job or jobs in order to predict how she will handle similar situations if this employer hires her.
During your job search, you may be faced with a behavioral interview, a standalone entity during which an interviewer asks you only behaviorally oriented questions. Alternately, behavioral questions may be incorporated into your regular interview, in which case only some of the questions an interviewer asks you will be behaviorally oriented.
What Happens During a Behavioral Interview?
Before an employer begins interviewing candidates, he will determine what knowledge, skills, and abilities are required for the job. Together these are referred to as competencies, and they may include the following:
Time management skills
The ability to multitask
Writing and presentation skills
The ability to work on and build teams
During a behavioral interview, the interviewer will ask you to demonstrate that you have the competencies needed to do the job. You will have to draw upon real-life examples that illustrate how you used a particular competency in a work-related situation.