Behavior Based Interviewing

The following is a general guideline to follow that works in producing the best Behavior Based interviews:

  1. Analyze the job description carefully. List the skills needed to perform the job well. Select the most important technical and performance based skills to evaluate.
  2. Begin the interview by establishing rapport with easy friendly questions that get the interviewee to open up and start talking.
  3. Ask open-ended questions about specific past job-related experiences. It is important that you receive specific answers not generalities. Persist to get the candidates to give specific past experiences.
  4. Allow silence if necessary to give the interviewee time to think of specific situations. Even if it seems awkward don't break the silence. This gives you as an interviewer a huge advantage in getting the information you need to make a rational decision.
  5. Take notes
  6. Listen carefully every word they say and then evaluate what you hear.
  7. Ask for contrary evidence in order to keep from getting a one sided picture. That is if the interview gives you negative information about themselves, then restructure the question so that it gives the candidate an opportunity to show a positive about a similar situation. In turn if a candidate is all bubbly and positive and shown no negative qualities change the questions to probe into negative aspects. Everyone has them.
  8. Maintain control by asking another question when the candidate gets off track.

Technical job skills are the tasks done on the job. Things to review on the resume and the application. Determining the Performance skills is tougher.




Develop open-ended questions to get examples of specific behavior related to skills needed for the job. Use opened-ended questions that are tailor-made to get specific information. Have a list of questions prepared in advance with exactly what you need to know in order to make the right hiring decisions.

Intuition should help you to create better job-related questions not to make a decision whom to hire. Intuition can tell you when you are getting a one-sided picture of a candidate. That is why it is so important to ask for contrary evidence.

Give the interviewee time to answer the questions. In times of silence let the interviewee think about an answer to a question. Reassure them that they have plenty of time. After getting through the generalities get specific examples of their past behavior. Be sure to get specific information, not generalities.

Set a pattern with asking specific questions then the interviewee is conditioned to answer open-ended questions.


The person asking the questions is the person that is in control. Maintain control tactfully.

Examples of Open-ended Questions:

Tell me about a problem person that you had to deal with on your last job? Tell me exactly what happened and how you handled it?

(Willingness to following policies and procedures)

Would you tell me about a situation where you felt it might be justifiable to break company policy or alter standard procedure.

Tell me about a tough decision you made when there was no policy to cover it?

(Balanced picture - areas where you need improvement - everyone needs improvement)

Tell me about a time when you were not successful with a tough decision you had to make?

Describe a time when you had to discuss some unpleasant feelings to a supervisor. What did you do?

Tell about a time when you didn't communicate something unpleasant, but should have?

What was one obstacle you had to overcome in our last job? How did you do it?

Now describe an obstacle in your last job that you were not able to overcome?