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What is behavioural interviewing?

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Evaluating candidates through behavioural interviewing

Evaluating candidates through behavioural interviewing

From a research perspective behavioural interviewing is the most accurate form of interviewing and a highly effective recruitment technique.

The best way of writing behavioural interview questions is with these simple four letters. P. G. A. E. (please give an example).

The essence of behavioural interviewing is that questions about the past, prove to be more accurate than questions about the future!

Let explore this further.

A highly accurate way to assess a candidate's abilities

Watch the video to understand how you can use behavioural interviewing to more accurately assess an applicant's skills and experience in the key competences required for a role, using questions about the past.

Watch the next video in this series here:

Part 7 – How to Conduct a Reference Check

And watch the previous video here:

Part 5 – Biodata: How to Score Job Applications

And if you know of anyone who would benefit from this video, please share it with them.

Video Transcript

Hi, Andrew from SACS and welcome to video number six in our series on Candidate Attraction and Candidate Evaluation.

In the candidate attraction section, we covered a range of things about how to attract candidates in tough times.

So far in the candidate evaluation section talked about, the various accuracy of different recruitment techniques.

And we explained a thing called biodata scoring in video number five.

In this one, we’re going to be talking about behavioural interviewing.

Behavioural interviewing is the most accurate form of interviewing that’s ever been discovered from a research point of view. And there is some really practical things that you can do to make your behavioural interviewing process as accurate as possible.

Outcome-based job definitions

In the video number one of this series, we talked about a thing called outcome based job definition where you define a job, by the outcomes that achieve rather than the tasks that are necessary to be undertaken to complete the job.

So outcome based job definition is a rapidly growing approach to job definition and it’s taking over from the traditional method of job definition which is called task based job definition.

Now, good outcome based job definition identifies the outcomes of the job.

So how is the world a better place when this job is done well? And you’ll see where you’re using the terminology RWOs here (refer to video), that stands for real world outcomes.

And so if you’ve undertaken a job definition process and you’ve discovered happy clients and managed within a budget, they’re two measurable outcomes for a job.

By the way, one of the things that we see in a lot of jobs I mean, HR jobs, never in the job definition is happy customers mentioned, what is it that an HR manager is for? Well, you interact with a range of stakeholders across the organisation and they have to be satisfied with what they get.

So that’s the idea of outcome based job definition.

It causes people to assess things that otherwise might be ignored when you look at a list of tasks.

P.G.A.E (please give an example)

The best way of writing behavioural interview questions is these simple four letters. P. G. A. E., please give an example.

Look, the essence of behavioural interviewing is that questions about the past, turn out to be vastly more accurate than questions about the future.

Questions about concrete things, turn out to be vastly more accurate than questions about abstract things.

So questions about what would you do in this scenario? Can identify good interviewees in the sense of people who can be glib in answering such questions. But the glib answer doesn’t mean they can actually do it.

A behavioural interview is a process of sharing experience to cause the person to come up with their best example of where they’ve done something similar in the past.

Now interviews, as I showed you in previous videos are really questionable from an accuracy point of view and people love to rely extremely heavily on them.

There’s a form of bias that’s been identified in psychology called the narrative of bias.

And the narrative of bias is where you kind of make up a story about a person and you believe it deeply.

So people’s capacity to believe stories about candidates can be unwound by saying give us an example of where you’ve done something similar in the past. And if they could answer that, even if they’re not a fantastically glib and well presented candidate, that will give them an opportunity to show their wares.

On the other hand, if a person is glib and is polished but can’t give you specific examples of where they’ve done these things in the past, once more, you’re being not taken in by the image, by the gloss, you’re getting to the crux of whether they’re likely to be able to do this job or not.

PGAE, please give an example of when you made clients happy please give an example of when you managed within a budget.

Now you notice that these are worded very simply.

Research once more suggests, the simpler you make questions the more likely you get to the truth.

You know, you can end up with a behavioural interview question which is something like, please give an example of when you made clients happy, what was the situation? What was the outcome? And how did you measure your success? Well, put all that stuff in if you want, but it gives you an opportunity to say, please give an example of where you made clients happy. That’s a simple question, easy to understand.

We’ll draw the best response out of the candidate and then when the person has answered that question if you want to dig in a little bit more detail, okay, how did you know that was successful? You can use that as follow up questions.

Simplicity, makes for good interviewing.

Now these are way more predictive than tell us about yourself, or what would you do in the following situation type questioning, because the best predictor of the future is the past.

Discriminating against introverts

This is a really important point here.

Interviews particularly panel interviews are an institutional method for discriminating against introverts.

Take your average, really smart introvert and put them in front of four pairs of prying eyes, boring into them while they’re trying to think of their best answers.

Well, that’s just not an introverted kind of a thing and in fact, often introverts go home and we’ve had this in our business, where people will call us and say, oh I thought I’m a much better example once I had a chance to relax and think about it, you know, I actually suggest that you send the behavioural interview questions to the candidates before you interview them.

Why not? Why rely on only the examples they can come up with in front of you? Why not give them the opportunity to see the questions that you want to ask? And to come up with their answers, to identify their best example.

If they give you something that’s not their best example is that a bad thing? If they’re in front of you and they’re stressed is that necessarily a bad thing? It means that they may not be great at interviews, but you know, we all know people who are outstanding employees who are bad in interviews, you’ve got to demystify the interview. you’ve got to take the sting out of the interview and make it more like a normal human interaction.

So why not tell them about the questions that you want them to answer?

Now, if they make it up and very, very, very few people do this, but if they make up their answers then your follow up question, who did you have to speak to to get an authority from this? What was the final outcome? What was the budget? Those kinds of questions will find that out because if they can’t answer those questions, well clearly that’s not a genuine answer.

So interviewing should be designed to find out about the past, the best predictor of the future is the past, I suggest demystify the interview, give them an opportunity to reflect on the questions beforehand.

I think if you adopt this process you may well find that the interviews are better, more accurate and more satisfying.

Key selection criteria

In an earlier video, I was very unkind about the idea of key selection criteria. Said it was very old fashioned, and backward, and there are better ways of doing it.

I suggest read the people’s CVs and the ones whose CVs are approximately close to what you’re looking for, what you can then do is get in touch with them and say would you mind answering these behavioural interview questions? So they can become your key selection criteria.

The reason I mentioned this is that I’ve helped many organisations, which have as a matter of policy, that you have to have key selection criteria, if you then send the behavioural interview questions which are targeted, they’re not vague things like, address a certain point or something like that.

It’s much more specifically, please give an example of where you have managed staff in multiple locations let’s say, that can draw out a better response from the candidates and it could be worthwhile especially if they understand, hey, your CV looks good, we are considering you seriously, please go to the extra effort of writing this thing.

Make the interview a partnership

Making the interviews as comfortable as possible, you know, some people think, well, you know it’s an executive job and an executive job should have stress on it.

Well, the problem is that the stress of an interview is almost entirely unrelated to the stress of doing the job.

You know, I don’t know if anybody’s ever thought of being a stand up comedian, but, I think that would be a terrifying thing to do personally, I mean, I don’t mind public speaking, but, that kind of stuff, you’re kind of putting yourself right out there, aren’t you?

You’ve written this stuff and you’re hoping that people will laugh and those kind of things, you know I think an interview is somewhat similar to that.

People can’t get away from the concept that I am being personally evaluated. And of course, what you want to do, is you want to evaluate the person’s background.

What you’re looking for is you’re trying to understand their competencies, not their soul.

So I think, making the interview a partnership and making it as equal as possible, and as comfortable as possible, you get away from this stress interview effect, stress interviews tend not to be accurate in predicting work performance because the stress of an interview is just so different from the stress of doing the job.

Get the panel to agree what constitutes a good answer before they start interviewing.

I mentioned in the previous video about evaluating CVs that getting agreement from the panel is absolutely crucial as to what we’re looking for in a good CV.

But even more so in a sense is when the people get in front of you and you are interviewing them to agree what a good answer would be.

Psychometrics assessments

Now, let me tell you a little bit about a thing called psychometrics. Psychometrics is measurement of psychological characteristics.

So when people make a judgement about a candidate’s capability to do a job, that is a psychometric measure that they’re coming up with.

And if you’ve got four people on a panel if people disagree with each other, that’s what’s known as internal unreliability in the method.

So when people are not agreeing with each other that makes the method unreliable.

Now an unreliable method, mathematically must be an invalid method.

You can’t possibly be accurate in terms of predicting real world outcomes.

If the method disagrees with itself, I mean imagine if you had three clocks around you and they all said a different time, well, obviously, it’s unreliable, you can’t rely on any of those clocks until, you know, okay, this is the valid one.

It’s the same of when a panel doesn’t agree with each other.

What constitute a good answer?

So, couple of things, one, make sure that you’ve got the right people in the panel, people who are have a vested interest in getting a good hire.

But second, it means you have to invest some time before the panel in deciding what a good CV looks like deciding what questions you’re going to ask.

These simple behavioural interview questions and thirdly, what would constitute a good answer.

Now, if you do that, you’re going to get inter-rate reliability and it was the write ups of the people on the panel and they will agree with each other more and that’s going to mean a much more accurate interview process.

What is a good scoring system?

Now, from there, it’s as simple as coming up with a simple scoring system.

And we mentioned earlier in this series of videos A, B, C. A means a really strong candidate, B means maybe, C means definitely not.

That can be enough to rate candidates.

I mean, quite often people come up with all these complicated scoring systems where you’ll have competency scores.

All the research evidence suggests that those are very, very hard to do accurately.

One rating, which is how good is this candidate can be enough and in fact, it can be way more accurate than say, five ratings.

The concept is, as long as everybody’s on the same page about what makes that one rating, A means hireable, B means maybe, C means definitely not.

Let’s say, or you could write an amount of 10 where 10 means fantastic and zero means as bad as possible those kinds of things.

Simple is better.

Is reference checking helpful?

So there are some ideas about behavioural interviewing, now we’re going to address in the next video, the concept of reference checking.

I mentioned it earlier, videos that reference checks are pretty inaccurate.

The absolute best reference checks get a little ahead of 7% accuracy and psych tests alone will give you 25, 30% accuracy.

So, we should not rely too heavily on reference checks and if you get poor psych results and a great reference check,

I certainly know I’d be believing the psych results before the reference check, but still they’re worth doing, they can yield important information.

The next video will be explained to exactly how to get the best possible value, out of your reference checking.

Watch the next video in this series to find out more about Candidate attraction & Evaluation:

Part 7 – How to Conduct a Reference Check

And watch the previous video here:

Part 5 – Biodata: How to Score Job Applications

And if you’d like some help evaluating your next hire, contact us about our Psychometric Assessment Tools.

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