What Is Behavior-Based Interviewing?

Hire better employees by asking better interview questions.
Hire better employees by asking better interview questions. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

If you’re like most hiring managers, you’ve faced disappointment in some of the hiring decisions you have made. Although there’s no foolproof way of assuring you hire the right person for the job, by simply improving your interviewing techniques, you can make better hiring decisions. Use behavioral interviewing to help you hire the right candidate.


Behavioral interviewing is a process where you ask job candidates about their previous job experiences instead of a question like, “Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.” Behavioral interviewing assumes previous job performance is a clear identification of future job performance.


To conduct a behavioral interview, you should have a results-oriented job description that includes key result areas where the new hire must perform. One example of a key result area is project management. Projects need to be completed on time and on budget. From the job description, develop a list of required skills and work attributes needed to fill the job position. Skills could include such areas as critical thinking, independence, learning interest and ability, self-confidence, initiative, effective communications, team building and professionalism.

Example Questions

Behavioral interviewing revolves around questions designed to solicit examples of when a candidate demonstrated the skill you are looking for. To determine project management skills, you could say, “Describe two situations where you faced tight project deadlines, what the situation was and how you approached it.”

For communications skills, say, “Describe a situation where you had an important recommendation to sell to senior management. What was the recommendation? Who did you have to sell it to? What were the obstacles and how did you overcome them?“

For supervisory skills, say, “Part of management is dealing with problem employees. Describe a problem you had with an employee, what you did about the problem and what resulted?” About stress management, you could ask, “What was one of the most stressful job situations you had to deal with? Describe the situation and how you dealt with it.”

To assess the candidate's flexibility and adaptability, ask, “Describe a situation you faced on your last job when your boss suddenly changed your work priorities. What did you do to adapt to this change?”


Before conducting the behavioral interview, carefully review the applicant’s resume. When conducting the interview, keep the job candidate focused on real life examples from previous jobs. Prepare an interview form with each skill and question listed. Take notes under each question. After the interview, summarize the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses for future reference.

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