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Could behavioral interviewing transform your hiring results?

If you’ve ever hired, onboarded and trained new employees, only to have them quit 90 days later, you know that it’s a frustrating and costly endeavor. Unfortunately, the person you meet in the interview often does not seem like the same person who shows up for work.

It often takes six to eight weeks to discover if you made the right or the wrong hire. But what if you could circumvent that process? What if there was a crystal ball that could help you hire the ideal candidate more often?

While there is no magic formula, many employers have discovered greater hiring confidence and long-term success by using a technique known as behavior interviewing.

The High Cost of A Bad Hire

You need to learn to hire new employees with speed and accuracy. If you take too long, hire the wrong person or hire a person who doesn’t stay, it can be costly.

In fact, Fast Company cites a study by The Center for American Progress on the costs of replacing employees and new hires, and their findings are shocking:

The Cost To Replace Employees Employee’s Annual Salary
16% of employee salary or $3,200 $30,000 or less
20% of employee’s salary $30,000-$50,000
213% of employee’s salary Senior/Executive level


Everyone puts their best foot forward when interviewing, so it can be hard to separate the good from the bad. You need a reliable method to help you discern whether candidates are a truly good fit for your organization. Are they genuinely going to enhance and contribute to your business, or are they faking it until their real personality shows? How can you tell the difference?

Behavioral Interviewing Can Make A Difference

Behavioral interviewing is a process that is designed to uncover a person’s authentic personality and habits in a short period of time. It seeks to uncover people’s real behavior and the choices they will likely make. The method is designed to match candidates’ paper qualifications to their true skills and reveal how they conduct themselves on a daily basis.

The key with behavioral interviewing is to ask candidates to describe real life scenarios. For instance, instead of asking about their communication skills, you would ask them about some tricky scenarios that require smart communication skills.

Use This Three-Step Process

Here is a simple three-step process to help uncover the qualities that you seek in a candidate:

Step 1: Identify the capabilities a prospective candidate needs to be successful. Write out a list of skills you are looking for and rank them in order of importance. Go into the interview with a clear vision of the ideal candidate. Don’t wait for someone to impress you with charm.

Step 2: Write questions that will reveal the desired characteristics and skills you seek. Focus on categories that are needed for each role. For example, for a management position, you may want to write questions that reveal a candidate’s abilities in the areas of communication, problem solving, work ethic, leadership and responsibility.

  • Sample Communication Questions:
    • Tell me about a time that you disagreed with your supervisor and how you handled it.
    • Tell me about a time you resolved a situation with a customer who was very angry.
    • If you feel disrespected by a colleague, how do you typically deal with it?
  • Sample Problem Solving Questions:
    • Describe a situation in which you proactively prevented a potential problem.
    • Tell me about a situation in which you resolved an issue with a creative solution.
    • Has there been a time when you had to take on a new task or role? Tell me how you handled it.
  • Sample Work Ethic Questions:
    • Tell me about a time you went above and beyond your job description for a customer.
    • Have you had a goal that has been nearly impossible to achieve? Tell me about how you’ve handled that.
    • What standards do you set for yourself? How do you continuously raise the bar?
  • Sample Leadership Questions:
    • Tell me about a time when you needed to persuade someone who disagreed with you.
    • Tell me about a situation in which you coached others to improve their performance.
    • Has an employee disagreed with you or taken a different approach than you would have? Tell me how you handled that.
  • Sample Responsibility Questions:
    • Tell me about a time in which you achieved a seemingly impossible deadline.
    • Tell me about a very stressful situation at work and how you managed it.
    • Who was your best boss ever? Why?

Step 3: To avoid hiring based on likeability, write down the answers you are looking for in advance so you can objectively evaluate how each candidate’s answers align with your goals and culture. Having written expectations can prevent you from being over-influenced by your emotions. Keep your head on straight, and maintain a clear vision of the ideal candidate.

Avoid This Common Mistake

As you evaluate potential candidates, stick to the process. Don’t fall into the “friend trap” when hiring new employees. This is when you focus more on how candidates make you feel than their actual answers or skills.

Don’t just choose the most likable candidate- choose the candidate that’s best for the role and that meets the position’s job description.

Need Hiring Assistance or Guidance?

At Higginbotham, we provide comprehensive and professional HR guidance and services. Let us know how we can help your company grow and succeed.

Not sure where to start? Talk to someone who wants to listen.

A great plan starts with a conversation. Let’s talk about what you need.

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