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Step 3- The Behavioral-Based Interview

The candidate has made it through the resume review and the phone screen, now it's time to meet them in person and learn more.

I've been using a behavioral-base interview for many years. I believe the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior (ladies- this is true in dating too!). As a result, I ask a series of behavior-based questions to see how a candidate has handled a particular situation in the past to help me determine how they might handle a similar situation in the future. This will help me determine if we'll work well together, if they're a cultural fit, and if they have any habits I need to be aware of.

Here's how I set up the interview to make sure the candidate understands what I'm looking for.

Hi John. Thanks for taking time to come in so that I can learn more about you and your past professional experiences. Have you done a behavioral-base interview before?

They usually aren't sure if they've done it or not.

I'm going to ask you questions about past situations. I'm looking for a specific instance, not "I do that every day". The more specificity the better.

Most of these will tie back to a professional situation, but if you have a personal situation that is more appropriate you're free to share that story.

Now that I've explained the expectations the interview begins. Here are a few of my favorite questions:

  • Tell me about a time when you persuaded someone to make a change.
  • Tell me about the last time you lost a deal.
  • Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with someone, even though that person didn't like you.
  • Tell me about the most difficult decision you've made in the last 2 years.

Then I throw in a couple of interesting ones, for my own enjoyment.

  • Tell me the last time someone said to you "I can't believe you just did that"
  • Are you more likely to ask for forgiveness or permission?
  • Tell me about a professional heroic failure- You went to the dry cleaner and picked up your Superman/Superwoman cape in anticipation of saving the day professionally. Then the situation went South on you. What happened?
  • This interview usually lasts between 60-90 minutes. As always, I allow the candidate to ask me any questions they have since we last spoke.

    This more intense interview gives me a much better understanding of the critical thinking skills, sales/objection handling/negotiation skills of the candidate, and helps me determine if we'll work well together.

    Assuming everything goes well the candidate will move on to the testing phase and will have an opportunity to "ride-along" with a member or 2 from the team to get a better feel for the position.

    This is step 4 in the process. Be on the lookout for the next installment to learn the tests that have worked for me in the past and how to structure the "ride-along".

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