The Two Best Interviewing Techniques

Category: Management/Leadership
Author Name: TrainingABC
Posted: 07-07-2021 03:10 AM
Views: 954
Synopsis: Learn about the two most effective interviewing techniques - behavioral and situational interviewing.

Interviewing job candidates is one of the most difficult, yet critical aspects of a manager’s job. The average bad hire costs organizations tens of thousands of dollars, however the effects go far beyond money.   Bad hires destroy productivity and lower employee morale.  They often leave their mark on a workplace for years.


Interviews have historically been unstructured and based on feelings.  Who hasn’t heard someone say something like “I just had a good feeling about her?” However, this approach is the least effective for hiring successful employees.  We typically like people who are like us, and we naturally have biases and stereotypes that we have developed from our life experiences.  When job candidates give us a good feeling, it’s because they are comfortable and familiar, and our life experience gives us a bias toward them.  While this feels good, it’s not very scientific and not very useful. 

Three executives interview a job candidate.

The most effective interviews use two techniques – Situational and Behavioral Interviewing.  Both techniques are designed to focus on job related skills and experience rather than subjective feelings.


The Techniques


Effective interviewing questions are designed with one specific purpose in mind…rating the candidate’s competency in each task or skill that is essential to the job.


Research has shown that open-ended behavioral and situational interviewing questions provide the most accurate and reliable results.


Both question types have one thing in common - they are open-ended and require detailed responses.  Let’s look at each technique individually by using a sample competency - effectively resolve customer complaints.


Behavioral questions ask the candidate to recall a real-life account from the past.


Example Behavioral Interviewing Question: “Tell me about a time that you answered a call from an angry customer and the steps you took to handle that situation?”

African American smiles as she meets the two managers who will conduct her job interview

Example Behavioral Interviewing Question: “The success of behavioral questions stems from the fact that answers come from the real-life history of the candidate.”


Example Behavioral Interviewing Question: “Tell me about a time that you took a call from an angry customer with a complex problem and how you resolved it while working within the framework of company policies.”


A candidate who demonstrated competence in the past is likely to perform the same way in the future. 


Situational questions give the candidate a hypothetical job scenario.  Often these questions present a dilemma which requires a choice between two options. 


Example Situational Interviewing Question: “Let’s say you have just answered a call from an angry customer with a complex problem.  Would you seek advice from more experienced members of your team to see how they have handled similar situations or would you attempt to solve the issue on your own knowing that your team members are busy solving other problems?  Please explain why you selected your answer.”


Example Situational Interviewing Question: “Our call center has experienced a 20% increase in customer complaints.  If you are hired as its manager, what specific steps would you take to analyze problems and implement changes that improve service.”


Situational questions give you the advantage of asking about a scenario, problem or task that is specific to the job.


Finding the Competencies


Before writing any questions, interviewers need to find the core competencies that are essential to the job.


Example Manager Scenario

Smiling white man wearing a gray suit is being interviewed by a manager also white and wearing in a gray suit.

“As the manager of a call center, one of the most critical duties for my customer service employees is to “effectively resolve customer complaints,” and one of the most important competencies for this is “the ability to solve complex problems.” 


Example Manager Scenario


“The number one responsibility for the position I am hiring for is to “work closely with component suppliers to ensure quality control.”  An essential competency for this duty is the “ability to communicate effectively with diverse groups of people.”


These managers are describing job duties and competencies.  A competency is the ability to do a task or skill competently.  For an interview to be successful, the questions must be written specifically to assess the core competencies of the job.  A job interview should be designed to rate these competencies.  When these ratings are accurate, they are the best way to predict which candidates will be successful employees.


Develop a list of competencies required for the position by reviewing the job description, interviewing managers and supervisors who oversee the job, consulting with high performing employees working in the position, and utilizing any other pertinent sources.


Core competencies must be sorted from the tasks and skills that are not essential.  “Core” competencies are the job’s most critical tasks and skills.  In other words, the reason the job exists.  The rating of these competencies is the nucleus of every effective interviewing question.

An African American man is being interviewed by an African American woman in an upscale office.

Let’s look at how these managers could evaluate core competences through behavioral and situational interviewing.




“Tell me about a time that you had a complex problem at work and had to find a creative solution to satisfy a customer.”


“Tell me about a time that you worked successfully with a person with a completely different personality or viewpoint than your own.  Please be specific about the steps you took to make the relationship successful.”




“In this job, you will occasionally speak with customers about complaints.  Please describe the specific steps you would take to resolve a unique complaint that wasn’t covered in the employee manual.”


“In this job, you will work with component manufacturers from around the world.  Please list the specific steps you would take to ensure that our quality standards are clearly communicated with suppliers from different countries.”


In Conclusion


Effective interviewing is no easy task but with well researched and well written behavioral and situational interviewing questions it can be simplified.   Behavioral interviewing undercovers real-life examples of past behavior and situational interviewing allows interviewers to create questions that are specific to the job.    With these techniques, interviewers will hire more successful employees.

About the Author

Comments on The Two Best Interviewing Techniques

google-site-verification: google448d4e5a534bf25c.html