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Does Behavioral Interviewing Actually Work for Hiring Better Employees?


As an employer, you’re probably no stranger to challenges like turnover, low productivity, coworker conflicts, and absenteeism. It’s an unfortunate reality in running a business that human error all too often creeps into your hiring process and employee management. When helping companies overcome these downfalls, we’re all ears when it comes to strategies for reducing these downfalls. That’s why we’re particularly interested in the question, does behavioral interviewing actually work?

We recently explored the discussion of whether cultural fit really makes a difference in hiring, and determined that in order to leverage your employees’ skills and achieve greater productivity in the workplace, a fine balance between cultural fit and technical skills is essential. This is an important point to revisit because behavioral interviewing is one way that you can determine a candidate’s cultural fit in the interview. So does behavioral interviewing actually work for hiring better employees? We believe the short answer is yes. Here’s why.

Why Behavioral Interviewing is Better

Traditional interview questions such as “tell me about yourself” and “what are your strengths and weaknesses,” are very limited in telling you much about a candidate. A typical job seeker knows their resume inside out and has likely rehearsed many answers to those traditional interview questions.

Their main goal is to impress the interviewer and overcome their nerves; this often directly clashes with your goal of getting to know them in a way that reveals how they would perform in your workplace and in the role you hire them for.

That’s why behavioral interview questions go deeper. They are questions that uncover a candidate’s previous workplace behaviors in order to predict future performance. And according to the Society of Human Resource Management, behavioral interviewing is on the rise.

What Does Behavioral Interviewing Entail?

Behavioral interview questions describe a situation that would be probable in your company and then ask the interviewee how they have responded to similar situations in their previous work experience. For example, maybe you want to know how the candidate handles high pressure deadlines, office conflicts and miscommunications, or responsibilities outside of their comfort zone.

However you choose to frame your questions, they need to be consistent for every candidate you interview. They also need to subtlety guide the candidate in how to structure their answer. Ideally, you’re looking for a three-part answer, consisting of a description of the past scenario, the candidate’s response and actions, and the outcome or result of the situation.

What Are You Looking for in the Candidate’s Answers?

So the question is, does behavioral interviewing actually work for hiring better employees? We believe the answer is yes, but in order for it to work properly, you have to listen carefully to your candidate’s responses.

Does their answer align with how you’d like your employees to respond in challenging situations? Are the lessons the candidate learned from their experiences valuable in context of your company’s work environment and team dynamic? What do their answers reveal about their personality traits in a work setting? Are they goal-oriented? Independent? Capable of coping with high stress situations?

Equally important is the attitude they have while answering. Listen closely for hints of negativity or complaining when they describe the challenge they were facing. Ideally, you want a candidate who is excited about problem-solving and can see the opportunity for growth. If downfalls get them stuck in a rut, it’s likely their negativity will be toxic to your team.

Does Behavioral Interviewing Actually Work for Hiring Better Employees?

Many industries are challenged with finding top talent, particularly in the youngest generation (we recently explored how companies are attracting Millennials to the manufacturing industry). At JDP Search, we believe that recruiting and retaining high performing employees starts with cultivating a great company culture. And finding the people who fit that culture starts with behavioral interviewing.

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