When you’re assessing job candidates, the most practical and efficient method is to conduct historically-based behavioral interviews.
Our interview approach is based on the same principle that financial professionals use to analyze and predict future financial success for companies: The best predictor of future performance is past performance.
By determining the extent to which potential candidates have historically demonstrated the skills you’re looking for, you can better assess how well they will do in the future.
To conduct behavioral interviews, ask open-ended questions. Ideally, your questions should lead them to tell you stories that demonstrate their ability and their mastery of the competency, skill, or trait you’re hiring for.
For example, if you’re hiring for a senior management position, these kinds of questions will assess how well they work on a team:
Open-ended questions go beyond the superficiality of most interviews and will help you better see who your potential candidates really are and how they’ll act.
How do you determine the accuracy of the candidates’ stories? By going for detail. When a candidate says, “We completed the project successfully,” ask what their personal contribution to the project entailed. By getting into the details of the story, you can more clearly identify the specific actions and qualities of the candidate.
Ideally, interviewers should talk just five percent of the time. After your candidate answers a question, ask follow-up questions to draw out the story.
Here are examples of the kinds of questions that elicit the behavioral information you need:
“Tell me about it.”
“What happened next?”
“What are some of the difficulties you faced? How did you deal with them?”
“What did you learn?” “How have you applied that learning?”
Getting answers to these questions will greatly increase your insight into your candidates.
Above all, remember that the best job candidates should show real enthusiasm and excitement about your organization’s mission and purpose. There’s no such thing as a ‘perfect fit,’ but when you can identify someone with strong past experience and dedication to your mission – you’ve found a winner.
Michael Zwell, Ph.D., is an executive coach and Professor of Transformational Coaching, co-founder, and Chancellor of the Wright Graduate University for the Realization of Human Potential.
The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.