Back in the 80’s and early 90’s, many hiring managers, recruiters/Human Resources staff, CEO’s and other management folks relied on their “gut feeling” when it came to interviewing prospective new hires.
Some people even decided in the first 5 minutes of the interview, based on their gut feeling, if they would hire the candidate or not. Also, a lot of people involved in the hiring process would simply look for applicants who reminded them of themselves, or people who they’d like to be friends with. We can call it human nature, or that “spark of commonality”, but whatever you call it, in the long term these types of hiring decisions don’t usually result in the most well-qualified, high-performing employees that companies would like to have.
I started learning about behavioral interviewing back in the late 80s/early ‘90s, when it was a fairly unknown, new concept. It was during the beginning of my career as a Biotech Recruiter, when I worked for an early-stage, soon-to-be very well-known leading biotechnology company in the SF Bay Area.
I heard about an upcoming workshop for this new emerging concept, which I enthusiastically signed up for, attended, enjoyed thoroughly and became certified in Behavioral Interviewing.
Behavioral Interviewing is based on the concept that: Past behavior is the best predictor of future performance. In fact, behavioral interviewing is known to be 55 percent predictive of future on-the-job behavior, while traditional interviewing is only 10 percent predictive.
The interviewer identifies the desired skills and behaviors, and then creates open-ended questions and statements to elicit detailed, fact-based responses. So for example:
If, during an interview, a scientist candidate shares something from their past work experience which reveals their lack of flexibility, you can count on the fact that this trait will most likely be repeated in their next job.
Behavioral interview questions draw the candidate out (as opposed to “yes” or “no” questions which don’t really give you much information). Some examples of behavioral interview questions are:
● “Tell me about a situation where you worked effectively under pressure”
● “Give me an example of a goal you reached, and how you achieved it”
From my experience this interview technique works very well, in fact it’s a widely utilized interviewing method in the biopharmaceutical industry today. It can really provide the interviewer with solid facts about the candidate’s past behavior and performance, which can give you a pretty good indication of their future performance and whether or not they are a match for what the company is looking for.