Soft Skills & Hiring

March 24, 2020 at 10:48 AM Tags: Soft Skills

Behavioral Interviewing includes a selection process that has a rubric. It starts with pre-determining competencies (including soft skills) and then asking certain types of questions to determine whether or not a candidate has those competencies.

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What Is Behavioral Interviewing?

Behavioral Interviewing (BI) is not the same as traditional interviewing. The questions you ask will be different, and the insights you get about your candidates will be more comprehensive and more useful.

BI is a technique for gathering specific information about what a candidate has actually done in the past. By probing real situations, you’ll ascertain whether or not a candidate has the skills, knowledge and traits needed to do the job.

When you ask BI questions, you won’t get scripted answers that fool interviewers. Instead, you’ll get examples and stories that illustrate exactly what the candidate did in a situation. The premise here is that past behaviors are the best indicator of future behavior. 

Here’s What Happens in a Traditional Interview. 

Let’s use an example of a sales manager hiring a sales person. The sales manager in a traditional interview asks questions like “How effective are you at prospecting?” The candidate replies “I’m the best in our organization. I always have a full funnel, and I prospect every single day.” The sales manager likes that answer, hires that candidate, and finds out after they’ve started that their prospecting skills are grossly inadequate.

The candidate furnished the answer that the sales manager wanted to hear. It might even have been true. “Best” in one organization can still be worst in another. “I prospect every single day” provides zero information about the quality of those calls or what they produce. 

For Contrast, Here’s What happens in a Behavioral Interview.

First, you ask situational questions like “In your current job, how much time and attention is needed for prospecting?” When the candidate replies, you listen for a situation that is similar to the one you’re hiring for. If you need an experienced and confident “hunter,” you’ll know it might be a poor fit if the candidate says “all our leads are prequalified by marketing” or “we’re mostly responding to inbound leads.”

No matter what the candidate says about the situation, you’ll follow up to find out about the candidate’s own specific behavior. If the candidate described a situation where prospecting is required, you still need to know more about what this candidate actually did in that situation.

You’d ask, “What were your own routines or practices for generating new business?” You’re looking to hear details that describe what the candidate did -- not what was measured, what was ideal, or what others did. You want to hear a response like, “Each day, I ...” followed by specific actions. If you hear, instead, descriptions about generic guidelines, you press for specifics. If you hear “we” or “they” instead of “I,” the you press for specifics about the candidate’s own behaviors. If the candidate fumbles to try and give the “right” answer, it will usually be a series of generic ideals without personal, specific behaviors. That’s a clear sign, for you, that the candidate hasn’t mastered this competency or resists prospecting altogether.

Finally, in a behavioral interview, you’ll also ask about results. You need to know if the candidate understands the cause-and-effect between their behaviors and the outcomes produced. A question about results also clues you in on whether the situation and behaviors are being accurately portrayed. With a candidate in a role that demanded prospecting and describing behaviors that sound like the ones you want to see in your sellers, the results question would be something like “With those daily activities, what did you see long-term in terms of customer acquisition” Once again, you’re looking for very specific examples and details.     

Behavioral interviewing is proven to identify “best fit” candidates more accurately than traditional interviewing. Hiring for specific competencies also boosts the success rate of hiring. BI begins with determining the competencies needed for the job you need to fill.

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Written by Alison.B