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  • Ethan Hirschberg

Top 5 Behavioral Interview Questions To Ask Job Candidates

During the interview process, there are many questions that can be asked, including behavioral questions. This is a frequently used technique to help interviewers know if the candidate has a good person-organization (PO) fit with the company. Personally, I believe behavioral questions are crucial to the interview process and I'm sure you'll agree.



What Is A Behavioral Interview Question?


Many questions in an interview focus on technical or hard skills that are specifically relevant to the position at hand, and don't get me wrong - those are important. For instance, you would never want to hire a social media specialist who has never used Facebook or Instagram in their life. Behavioral interview questions focus on how the candidate will perform job duties as well as their critical thinking process behind their actions.


Whatever the position you plan to hire for, whether coder or consultant, driver or teacher, here are the top five behavioral interview questions to ask job candidates:


1. Tell me about a time when you had to develop a new skill. How did you approach the learning process?


Being able to recognize that learning occurs throughout one's career and life is vital to understanding how an employee may react to change. Every employee should ideally be open to learning new skills and industry knowledge. By asking this question, you learn the value that the candidate places on skill building.


2. Give me an example of when you've faced conflict while working with a team. How did you handle that?


Knowing how to effectively, respectfully, and professionally handle conflict is key to a smooth working team. Everyone has had conflict in groups, whether working in a professional or academic setting. By asking this question, you learn how the candidate handles conflict and high tension situations.


3. As a leader, how do you motivate those who follow you?


If the position needing to be filled is a supervisory role, you need to test for certain leadership skills. One of the most common consulting projects I get hired for surrounds employee motivation and how to best motivate a company's workforce. By asking this question, you will learn more about the candidate's interpersonal and management skills.


4. Tell me about your biggest professional failure. How did you recover and what did you learn?


Everyone experiences failure, it's part of the job. It's important to learn how someone handles themselves after something goes wrong. Employers need to know that their employees won't lose stability in trying times. By asking this question, you will learn how the candidate grasps failure, learns from mistakes, and takes opportunities to grow.


5. Tell me about a time you needed to get information from someone who was not responsive. What did you do to ensure you got your answer?


This is one of my favorites. We've all had that experience when all of our phone calls and emails are ignored, and the boss or client is still needing an answer. By asking this question, you will not only learn about the candidate's problem solving and communication skills, but also about how much influence they have over others around them.


The Final Thought


Behavioral questions should add merit and practicality to the interview process. Other questions should ideally relate to the job at hand. After all, specific behaviors that one looks for in a surgeon are different from the specific behaviors of an administrative assistant! It's important to note that individual thought processes might not align with yours, and that's okay. The question you need to ask yourself is if the candidate behavior matches the job and the company's values. If you can answer yes to both questions, you have a good candidate.


Ethan Hirschberg is an author, speaker, and business consultant from San Diego, CA. He specializes in strategic management and human resources consulting and publishes content about professional management, company strategy, and HR practices.