Interviewing for a job can be a nerve-wracking experience for those seeking employment, but it’s often no picnic for those on the other side of the desk either. Small business owners who have a handle on the interviewing process generally end up with successful hires, but for those who haven’t refined their interviewing skills, the results are less predictable. Sometimes they wind up with the right choice and other times they end up with a problem.
According to Sharon Armstrong, president of Sharon Armstrong and Associates, there are simple strategies to gain control, and one of the most effective tactics is behavioral interviewing. This approach is based on the principle that past behavior is the most likely predictor of future on-the-job behavior, whether this behavior leads to success or failure.
Armstrong, who is author of The Essential HR Handbook, believes that behavioral interviewing reveals much more about a job applicant because it encourages deeper conversation and engagement, allowing the interviewer greater insight into a prospective candidate’s attitude, decision-making, coping skills and so on.
Effective job interview questions might include:
- How do your skills and experience qualify you for this position?
- What’s an example of how you prioritize your work?
- Explain an instance when you encountered a problem at work and tell me what you did to bring about a solution.
- Describe a situation in which you were required to work under pressure and how you reacted.
- Walk me through your best customer service experience.
To prepare for a behavioral interview, analyze the list of duties the job entails and build questions off this list. It’s also up to the interviewer to set the right tone and establish the rapport that will make the candidate feel comfortable enough to respond fully to the questions.
Be sure to have the applicant’s resume on hand along with an assessment form to record your impressions. Keep in mind that the purpose of the interview isn’t just learning about the candidate, it’s also about creating goodwill (and good word of mouth) for your company, whether or not you end up hiring the person.
During the interview, take note of any red flags.
- If the candidate can’t tell you how their skills match your needs.
- If there are inconsistencies between the resume and what they’re telling you.
- If they have no idea what your company does, demonstrating both a lack of preparation and initiative.
- If they reveal confidential information about a former employer or talk negatively about them. (They’ll likely do the same about you.)
As for ending the interview, Armstrong’s favorite question is: As we close, is there anything else you’d like me to know about your skills?