When you are interviewing a candidate you want to uncover information that will help you predict their behavior on the job. You have seen the applicant’s resume, and you have already seen their job history, but the resume only begins to tell the story. For behavioral interviewing, implement the STAR model to help you understand the applicant’s work experience, but also their approach to their work.
S questions – the Situation
When you look at an application’s employment history it might not be immediately obvious how his or her prior experience relates to the position for which they are applying. Even when you think you know, develop a few questions that relate to frequently occurring situations in your position. For instance:
- Can you please tell me about a time when you had to deal with a customer complaint?
- Tell me about a time when you noticed a quality problem…
- Can you think of a time when you felt that you needed to challenge the thinking of a work group or authority figure?
- Please describe a situation where you had to discipline an employee.
The situation questions should relate directly to the content of the job for which the individual is applying.
T questions – Thought process
It is important to have an understanding of how the applicant processes information. Does he or she do research? Does the application make assumptions, and if so, are the assumptions or habits of thought in alignment with your company culture? Thought process questions might be similar to these:
- What was your process in determining what to do about it?
- How did you decide what action to take?
- What went through your mind when that happened?
A questions – Actions
Ultimately the candidate is only to impact results when he or she is taking action. In the Situation brought up, after the Thought process, how did the candidate take Action? What were the actions? How quickly did he or she take them? Did they act alone, or did they pull together a team? Did they seek approval first or did they act quickly, fully prepared to apologize for it later? Here are some sample Action questions:
- What did you decide to do about it?
- What action did you take?
- Did you have concerns or reservations about doing it that way? (refers back to the T questions)
- Was this something you could do alone, or did you need someone else with you to get it done?
R questions – Results
You could say that the “proof is in the pudding” and deal with results as the only important element in the interview situation. One reason to focus on results is that there might be a variety of ways to succeed (and fail) in achieving them. If your company is open to mental diversity, you may benefit from someone whose means are unconventional, but whose results are outstanding. Results questions might be:
- What was the outcome?
- What happened in the end?
- How did that strategy work for you?
Behavioral interviewing helps to reveal what the applicant achieved in his or her prior roles, but it also reveals HOW they achieved their results. If you focused solely on results you would be missing the illumination of attitudes and behaviors that will or will not be a good fit for your company culture. For example, you need to know as the interviewer whether you are willing to put up with “knocking of heads” as long as an individual achieves results.
When interviewing you need to be sure to ask the same questions of all candidates so you have a fair and accurate comparison among them. Identify any gaps in the candidates’ employment history. And of course you need to make a point to avoid questions related to protected classes (age, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, etc.)