Behavioral-Based Interviewing and the STAR Approach

By Dan Simmons

Behavioral-based interviewing is designed to help ensure more targeted and more successful hires.  Although a resume is what initially catches the eye, it’s the characteristics and behaviors the candidate possesses that should ultimately dictate whether or not they’re hired.

The first part of the behavioral-based interviewing process is to thoroughly evaluate the position you’re seeking to fill.  The next step is the actual interviewing of the candidates, and when it comes to behavioral-based techniques, the questions you ask them are quite divergent from standard interview questions.

“Tell me about . . .”

The main difference of behavioral-based interviewing questions is that they’re designed to probe deeper and to uncover more information about the candidate.  The key is to ask questions that will elicit detailed responses, revealing the candidate’s skills, how they utilize those skills and in what manner they facilitate their problem-solving strategies and their character.

Some call this approach STAR interviewing.

The acronym stands for Situation, Task, Action, & Result.

The bulk of your questions will be situational in nature.  You can ask a combination of both fictitious and past situations, or they can all be real situations.  It’s not recommended that they all be hypothetical.  It’s not enough to ask an initial question or two and leave it at that.  Follow-up questions are essential to discovering how the candidate will think and act in a given situation.

Example:

Instead of “Tell me about yourself,” you might say, “Tell me about a situation where you had to overcome a conflict, either between you and another co-worker in order to accomplish a common goal.”  While the candidate tells their story, you can ask additional questions, such as “What were you thinking at that point” or “What led you to make that particular decision?”  This will help you uncover the candidate’s behaviors, characteristics, and interpersonal skills.

This interviewing technique is more difficult for the candidate to navigate.  It requires them to answer questions they didn’t foresee and helps to evaluate their ability to think and respond quickly.  It will also reveal something about their behavior based upon the way they answer the questions themselves.

It’s all about ‘who they are’

Behavioral-based interviewing requires a slightly different perspective.  That difference can help you to not only avoid a potentially bad hire, but also zero in on the candidate who can help take your company to the next level.  That’s a win-win situation—and you win both times.

According to one of the trainers in the recruiting industry, “People are hired for what they do, and they’re fired for who they are.” If you hire people both for who they are and what they do, you’ll find they might be stars at your company for a long, long time.

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