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Don’t Just Hire People You Like

Don’t Just Hire People You Like


by Reem Papageorgiou  | October 27, 2020

While not the most thrilling of topics to read about, behavioral interviewing is one of the most critical learned skills a leader must master. It determines the most important decision making for the future of the company.

Here’s the Why  

We  are inclined  to interview based on likeness.  That means we subconsciously choose people that we feel are similar to us or that we  sense we share a connection to, often because  we initially notice we have something in common. For example, we bond over the same sports team or realize we have a friend in common. The catch? We don’t know we are doing it, and we feel good that we found the “right” candidate. This is the worst recipe for a good hire as it can lead to productivity and financial loss as well as decreased morale. “Feeling right” doesn’t equal “performing right.” You want to come up with a standard set of questions that you ask each candidate, so that you are creating equitable interview scenarios and can make a successful hire based on skill, not like.

The What

Behavioral interviewing is designed to give you a better sense of how the candidate would tackle a real issue in your workplace.  It allows you to hear a story and then further probe to make sure you hear what you need to hear in order to make a good hiring decision. Behavioral interviewing allows you to match past behaviors that are required for the job for which you are currently hiring. 

The How

Take the time to think of 3 to 5 key competencies for the position that you want to focus, on as well as culture. When you are defining your competencies think about  previous star employees, your A-team, and what stood out in terms of deliverables, communication, and effect on the company.  This is different from the bullet points on the job description; rather, this how you would define success. Once you define the answers to these questions, you’ll have a better sense of how to rate each candidate’s response because you know what you are looking for. You have figured out what top qualities you would like the candidate to have, not just that you like them and they “feel” right.

Each Interview Question has 3 parts: The Scenario, The Question, and the Action

The Scenario

I like to call this part the meat; part 1 of the question. This will probably be the hardest and longest part of your prep but it’s so worth it.  (Less Overall Time. Less Money. More Good Vibes)  

The Scenario tells the candidate what to expect with the job and sets them up to answer in a way where they can share a story or situation.  It gives you, the interviewer, a more realistic response to real-life situations. Design the first part of your sentence to state what you do as a company in relation to what the role would require: Use words like “often”, “sometimes”, “frequently” or “routinely”.  This is the first half of the sentence. Here are some examples:

  • “We often have to deal with difficult and challenging customers…
  • “As innovators, we are frequently required to develop creative solutions to impossible problems…”
  • “We routinely are faced with tight deadlines on multiple projects…”
  • “We sometimes find that our clients change their needs on a whim…
The Question

This is the easiest part. Really it is! It’s the second part of the question and prompts your candidate:

[…], tell me about a time when you

[…], describe a situation where you

[…], when have you had to

[…], walk me through an experience where you

[…], share with me an example of when you demonstrated

[…], give me an example of a time when you

[…], give me an example of where you

The Action

Combine Part 1 and Part 2; Part 3 asks them to share the action (behavior) they took in a similar situation. Here it goes:

We often have to deal with difficult and challenging customers, tell me about a time when you had to diffuse a customer who would not stop escalating.

As innovators, we are frequently required to develop creative solutions to impossible problems, describe a situation where you were challenged and what creative steps you took.”

“We routinely are faced with tight deadlines on multiple projects, tell me about a time where you had to meet multiple demands and how you managed it.

“We sometimes find that our clients change their needs on a whim, walk me through how you would manage the clients’ needs while still meeting deliverables.

The Candidate Response

When they are answering the behavior portion of the question, you should already know the key actions you are looking for because you put the work in ahead of Step 1. You’ve already thought about what has worked and not worked with other employees, even if in different roles. You’ve thought about metrics that you need to see addressed in terms of culture, leadership, and collaboration.

What if their responses to your interview questions are short? You’ve done all this prep work, but it feels like it’s not working. You can make sure they speak to the actions they took in a particular scenario by using these follow up questions:

Can you tell me more about that?

How did it turn out?

What was your specific role?

Can you tell me about other challenges you faced?

Investing the time upfront is a guaranteed strategy to finding top talent; thus saving you money and contributing to company success. Make hiring a top priority, so that you build a team that is driven, effective, and efficient, allowing your company to grow.

Download our free interview guide HERE