My podcast on structured behavioural event interviewing is my most popular. It’s not ‘soundtrack to a star is born’ popular but helping 11 people a day is a big deal for me (for now). It outlines some fundamental discipline to select people who fit with the potential to succeed. (You can hear it by clicking here).
Here are 9 solid questions that cover a lot of bases:
1. Tell me about the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the past six months.
2. Tell me about a major mistake you made, and what you did to correct it.
3. Tell me about the last time a customer or co-worker got upset with you.
4. Tell me about a time you knew you were right, but still had to follow directions or guidelines.
5. Tell me about the last time your workday ended before you were able to get everything done.
6. Tell me about a time you needed to motivate a co-worker.
7. Tell me about a time you had to raise an uncomfortable issue with your boss.
8. Tell me about a goal you achieved.
9. Tell me about a goal you failed to achieve.
Here’s the cheatsheet text downloadable from the podcast:
The Brain-Based Boss PodCast Episode 32:
Structured Behavioural Event Interviewing (SBEI)
- Develop clear, consistent selection criteria based on people who have been successful and happy in the role. Then, weight those criteria out of 10. Prep a decision matrix with those weighted criteria in anticipation of populating it with data out of your interview notes later.
- Based on those criteria, prepare some effective questions, each following a consistent structured pattern, designed to illicit examples of past behaviour of each of the selection criteria. Take ‘problem-solving’ as an example. “Tell me about a time when you’ve solved a problem”. What was it? What did you do? How did it turn out”? The best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour. Validating the answers to a sample of these questions can be part of any subsequent telephone reference checking.
- Conduct each interview, starting each with some purposeful ice-breaking questions before the prepped structured competency-based questions. This is to get them at ease and less-stressed so you get a more accurate view of them. Look to create connections between their passions and values, and those of the job. If it’s an architecture job, who is their favourite architect? Which building? Why? Me too – sort of thing. Then briefly outline how you’ll be using structured questions and why. Then proceed through your list of questions. Be prepared to be flexible if something astray crops up of interest but mainly stick to the prepared path, and ensure they do too.
- Debrief with any interview panel partners. Upload your notes and populate the decision matrix.
- SBEI should be part of an array of recruiting tools. A job interview by itself is at risk of being unrepresentative.
- Unless job interviewing for an imagination-based job, why rely on imagination-based questions? “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Pfft.
AND, in case you’re an interviewee rather than an interviewer, here’s a structure for you. It helps you handle things with more confidence when you need it, plus makes you seem very organised.
You can use the STAR interview method to prepare for behavioural interviews — a technique that helps you structure your response to behavioural interview questions. Using this method, you create a deliberate story arc that your interviewer can easily follow. Here’s how it works:
- Situation: What is the context of your story? In setting the situation, you are telling your listener when or where this event took place. For example, “We were working on a six-month contract for a high-value client, when our agency merged with another, larger firm…”
- Task: What was your role in this situation? For example, “It was my role to lead the transition for my group while also communicating with our client to keep the project on track.”
- Action: What did you do? For example, “I set up weekly check-ins with the client to update them on the progress of the merger. This cemented an important level of trust between us. I also had regular one-on-ones with each person on the team, both to assess how they were handling the change and to make sure we would meet our deadlines.”
- Result: What did your actions lead to? For example, “We ended up completing the project on time, meeting all of their specifications. It was incredibly rewarding to navigate a lot of change and succeed under pressure.”