Behavioural Interviewing Techniques for Hiring Managers

behavioural interviewing techniques

Behavioural Interviewing Techniques for Hiring Managers

The hiring process involves a number of steps, ideally resulting in finding a new employee who is the best possible fit for the business. While hiring managers must look carefully at a candidate’s CV to assess skills and experience, the interview is also an important component of this process. Choosing the best applicant for the job involves asking the right questions, and looking beyond the well-rehearsed “right answers.” One technique that can be useful for hiring managers is asking behavioural-based questions. These are based on the idea that the past behaviour of a candidate will predict future performance. A behavioural-based interview includes very specific questions about a candidate’s past performance, using this as a predictor of his ability to perform job functions in the future.

Begin by Determining Job Criteria

The first step towards leading a behavioural interview is sitting down and defining your essential job criteria. If you’ve already written a job description with ideal qualities that a candidate should possess, this could function as your criteria. For example, if you’re looking for an employee to work in a retail position, the criteria could include excellent communication skills, a positive attitude, the ability to work well under pressure, and the ability to work as part of the team. Further examples of criteria could include problem solving skills, safety awareness, and attention to detail.

Ask Specific Questions

With this list in mind, you can then design questions that assess how well a candidate will be able to meet the criteria. Instead of just asking if someone is a people person, you can instead ask for a specific example of a time when they worked well as part of a team. When assessing oral communication skills, ask for a time when the candidate had problems communicating with a customer and what he or she did to overcome the challenge. The key is to ask for examples from a candidate’s past work history, using this performance as a predictor of future success. Further behavioural questions could include:

  • Describe a time in which you were thrown into an unfamiliar situation, and how you coped with this.
  • Has there been a time when you had to meet a quota in a short period of time? What strategies did you employ to maintain a swift pace?
  • Describe a situation in which you had to deal with a large amount of requests from multiple sources. How did you break down your workload, and which requests were prioritized?
  • Describe a time when you had to work with a personality that clashed with your own.

Naturally, the questions should be tailored to best meet the business’s own culture and values. Asking for specifics will show you whether the applicant has had experience in a similar environment.

Supplement Behavioural Questions with Standard Questions

Naturally, behavioural interviewing won’t tell you everything you need to know about the applicant. You’ll still want to learn more about an applicant’s background, experience, and education. For example, this set of questions is meant for job candidates, but it also is good at uncovering an applicant’s underlying work motivation.

Although there’s no magic bullet to guarantee that a promising candidate won’t turn out to be a poor fit three months down the road, incorporating these techniques can improve your chances of finding a good match.


Rachel MacDonald

Freelance Writer at Now Learning
Rachel MacDonald is a freelance writer who has worked as a copywriter for businesses spanning the globe. She specialises in travel, design, and the arts.

Now Learning promotes courses from a huge range of Australian education providers – from short certificates and diploma courses through to undergrad and post grad degree programs.

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