Removing the Mask: Using Behavioral Interviews

Interviewing can be done successfully
many ways. It’s probably the most
important step to hiring new
employees… and it takes a certain skill.
A company needs to be able to not only
discover what a potential hire has done
(via the resume or application) but also
determine — within an hour or less —
whether that potential employee will
be a good fit with the company. Can
you imagine meeting someone for the
first time and determining whether
they are your perfect mate just by
asking a few questions?

Yet starting what could become a
lifelong work relationship is based on
that hour (or less) interview? That’s
essentially what you are doing when
you hire someone. So, in all fairness,
you want to be able to spend that
critical time during the interview
wisely. Cut through the stuff that
doesn’t matter; avoid the canned
answers, skip the fake lines and get
to the real heart of the matter: Is this
applicant the one you want to hire?

There are different ways of interviewing
that “work.” The traditional approach is
to use the applicant’s resume and talk
about things they have accomplished
and maybe, if there’s any time left, ask
some questions about how they heard
about the open position or what they
know about the company.

Don’t get me wrong, these things can
be useful in some circumstances, but
don’t you really want to know more
than whether they have worked on
the new BMW, Ducati or Hondas than
where they heard about your shop?

Don’t you care about more than where
they received their education and
what their main weakness is? Really,
when was the last time someone
shared with you a weakness that
wasn’t actually a strength? (Think: well,
I really like to help people too much
so at times I jump in and help instead
of letting people figure out things for
themselves. Wow, what a tragedy…
said sarcastically.)

If you want to hire people by actually
learning something about them first,
and then realistically be able to tell if
they’ll be a good fit, check out what the
big companies are doing.

For example, during an interview at
Zappo’s they ask people how lucky
they are and how weird they are.
There’s actually a right and a wrong
answer. If you score yourself a 10 on
the weird scale, you are probably a
little too psychotic. If your answer
is the number one, you’re a little too
“straight laced” as Zappos says.

The actual number you pick doesn’t
tell Zappos much, but it does help
Zappos discover a potential applicant’s
real personality. And that’s exactly
what Zappos is looking for… people
who can be themselves and create real
relationships with their coworkers.
Because that’s when employees are
more productive and can create the
most value.

This type of interview is called
behavioral interviewing. The questions
asked are more geared toward learning
an applicant’s soft skills which enable
the interviewer to see if the applicant
has the skills needed to be able to
problem solve, use critical thinking and
whether they have interpersonal skills.
Behavioral questions give information
about past performance because past
performance is a good indicator of
future performance.

It’s easy to use behavioral interviewing
to learn more about applicants. Most
behavioral interview questions allow
the applicant to tell a story. It doesn’t
even have to be a fantastic story —
I’ve heard stories about work, about
home and about applicant’s hobbies.
It doesn’t matter how they answer, but
just that the applicant can paint you a
picture of how they accomplished the

Tips For Behavioral Interviewing: 

Don’t ask yes or no questions. These don’t really answer anything.

Force applicants to give real-life answers by asking questions that start questions
Tell me about a time when…
Give me an example of….

Sample questions
Give me an example of a time when you used logic to solve a problem.
Give me an example of a goal you reached and how you reached it.
Give me an example of a goal you missed reaching and why.
Give me an example of a time when you had a difficult co worker and how you
handled the situation.
Tell me about a time when you had a deadline to reach and how you ensured
you reached it.
Tell me about a time when you handled stress at work and how you handled it.

By utilizing behavioral interviewing, you will be able to learn more about an
applicant’s decision-making skills, how they resolve conflict, how well they get
along with others, team building skills, how flexible a person is, how well they
verbally communicate, and what kind of technical skills they have that relate to
the job.


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