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4 Behavioral Interview Tips for Hiring Managers (and Must-Ask Questions)

A hiring manager conducting a behavioral interview with a job candidate

When finding the right candidates for your company, pre-employment assessments—like interviews and tests—can make recruitment more manageable and effective. They reduce the chances of hiring mistakes, saving you time and resources in the long run.

One example of a pre-employment assessment is behavioral interviews. A behavioral interview simplifies evaluating applicants by analyzing their personalities to determine whether they fit the job and company culture. As a result, you lower your risk of getting a bad hire. 

It pays to understand what behavioral interviewing is and identify questions you can ask to improve your recruitment process.

What Is a Behavioral Interview?

A behavioral interview is a pre-employment assessment process, questioning candidates about their previous work experiences. It provides insight into their past actions, allowing you to learn more about their abilities, knowledge, and efforts to predict future behavior.

Behavioral interviewing encourages candidates to provide specific examples of when they used a particular skill or behavior. Take this question, for example:

Recall a time when a colleague was deliberately unproductive. How did you handle the issue?

It shows the candidate’s sense of accountability and responsibility or approaches to handling similar problems as an employee of your company.

Behavioral interviews also involve situational or hypothetical questions. You ask how a candidate will approach or address a problem they’ll likely encounter if hired. Then, you can use their response to gauge their problem-solving and conflict-management skills.

4 Behavioral Interviewing Tips

Adding behavioral interviews into your recruitment processes is important to improve the quality of new hires. Here are some tips to help you maximize them.

1. Ask questions based on the job

Tailor each question to align with the position’s requirements and responsibilities. Suppose the candidate is applying as a customer service representative. In this case, you may talk about a time when they dealt with a particularly challenging customer. How did they handle the situation? What was the outcome of their actions?

These questions give you an idea of the applicant’s go-to strategies and knowledge relevant to the role. At the same time, going beyond resumes by asking questions related to the job allows candidates to show how well they can apply their expertise to real-world scenarios.

2. Use a mix of situational and behavioral

Leverage the following questions to gain a comprehensive understanding of each candidate’s knowledge and skills:

Combining different question types produces a well-rounded assessment of applicants’ critical thinking, adaptability, and other relevant skills.

3. Probe for further details

Candidates may at times give vague or incomplete responses, so be prepared to ask follow-up questions. This step prevents misunderstandings and allows you to dive deeper into their values and decisions. More importantly, additional unexpected questions test how applicants perform under stress.

However, avoid excessive questioning that might make the interview feel like an interrogation. Be an active listener and probe for further details, but keep your follow-up questions relevant.

4. Schedule debrief meetings with other interviewers

Debrief with other interviewers following each interview to gather evaluations and form a single decision, such as whether to advance the candidate to the next recruitment stage. Creating a space to share perspectives and observations minimizes individual biases in the hiring team, while forming a more comprehensive assessment to guide the final hiring decision.


5 Behavioral Interview Questions You Need to Ask

The following questions assess a candidate’s skills, behaviors, and decision-making abilities in various work-related scenarios.

  1. Describe the most significant failure you’ve experienced in your previous job. What led to that situation, and how did you resolve it?
  2. How did you manage colleagues who were challenging to work with?
  3. What did you do when your manager made a decision that, in your opinion, is ill-advised?
  4. Talk about when you had multiple competing deadlines and how you managed them.
  5. Describe a project or initiative you led. What was your role, and how did you organize and motivate your team to achieve the desired outcome?

Pick the Right Candidates with EmployTest

Behavioral interviews are a critical aspect of effective recruitment. They allow you to evaluate each applicant’s behaviors, skills, and personality without the risk of hiring an incompetent employee. In turn, you ensure that every hire meets the company’s needs and works well with the rest of the team.

EmployTest can help you with behavioral interviewing. We offer many different pre-employment assessment tests to help you determine suitable candidates for your organization’s growth.

Sound promising? Check out our free sample employment test to see how it would work for you!