“You can have the best strategy and the best building in the world, but if you don’t have the hearts and minds of the people who work with you, none of it comes to life.” Renee West, Luxor and Excalibur Hotel
Most folks I work with have little or no experience with interviewing. When you have little or no experience with something, you tend to lack a bit of confidence. This in turn creates a sense of overwhelm in not knowing what to do or where to begin.
When you’re faced with the need to interview for the first time, a lot of things are churning around in your mind. You might be thinking:
“I’m in over my head!”
“I have no idea how to do this!”
“I’m sure I can figure it out as I go…right?”
“I don’t know what to do or say! What questions should I even ask?”
“I’m desperate to get these people on my team. I want to do it the right way!”
“I’m tired and overwhelmed. I just need help!”
Growing your team can be a pretty stressful time. Since most people don’t start hiring until they need help the most, it only adds yet another task to their already full plate and an extra serving of stress and overwhelm!
I’ve learned a thing or two interviewing thousands of people over the past 12 years. Today, I want to share some of that knowledge with you so you can hire the RIGHT person for your team, the FIRST time!!
Interviewing with Confidence + Heart
I’m going to walk you through my favorite interviewing method and share some tips on conducting a thorough and effective interview. I truly believe that you can have a heart-filled and effective interview, to help you find the right person for your team. It just takes a bit of preparation and some knowledge of how to conduct a proper interview to get your started! By the end of this post, you’ll start shedding the stress and overwhelm of growing your team and will be one (or two or three!) steps closer to interviewing with confidence + heart!!
We’re going to start by going over the interviewing method I recommend most. I’ve used this method myself with great success and I’ve been an advocate for and taught others how to use it for years, as well. The method is called Behavior-Based Interviewing or BBI.
History of Behavior-Based Interviewing
Behavior-Based Interviewing has been around since the 70’s, so it’s not a brand new concept. However, BBIs have rapidly been growing in popularity since folks began to realize they were making better hiring decisions when using the the strategies taught in this method. They also found that they weren’t wasting tons of time or thousands of dollars hiring for the same position over and over again. Which is a huge win in it’s own right!
What exactly is a Behavior-Based Interview?
The premise behind a BBI is that past performance is an indicator of future performance in similar situations. Like the saying goes, “a zebra can’t change it’s stripes.” Meaning, a person isn’t likely to change his or her behavior. How a person has behaved or performed in the past, is likely how they’re going to behave or perform in a similar situation in the future. Now, that’s not to say that people can’t or don’t change. It’s just very unlikely. BBIs give you a more objective approach to interviewing, allowing you to make decisions based off of facts and actual events instead of assumptions and speculation.
Traditional Interview Question Example
In a traditional interview, questions are asked such as, “Is customer service important to you?” and “How would you handle an upset customer?” On first glance, there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with these questions. However, when we look at them a little more closely, we can start to see why they’re not the best choice.
The first question, “Is customer service important to you?” is a closed ended question, where the candidate can simply provide a yes or no response with no further elaboration. Closed-ended questions will kill your interview fast. You should generally try to avoid this type of question.
The second question, “How would you handle an upset customer?” is a hypothetical question. People know that business expect great customer service. So, when asked a question like this, a candidate can give the interviewer an answer they believe that person really wants to hear, even if they have to stretch the truth a bit. “Customer service is very important to me. If I had an upset customer, I would take very good care of them. I’d make sure that they got exactly what they needed and they left a satisfied customer!”
Not a bad answer, right? Could it be true? Sure! BUT…how do you know? And what exactly would they do to take “very good care” of the customer and make sure they got “exactly what they needed?” You can’t. You’re left with more questions than you started with and you’re even more unclear whether or not this person would actually take care of your customers the way you would.
Behavior-Based Interview Question Example
A behavior-based interview question asks the candidate to draw upon a real-life experiences instead, in order to describe how they’ve performed or behaved in the past. (Remember, past behavior is predictive of future behavior!)
For example, the same competency (customer service) would be asked in the following way: “Tell me about a time when a customer was upset with the work you had performed. How did you handle that situation? ” The candidate is then called upon to think back to a time when they actually handled a tough customer situation and what they specifically did to resolve the situation. You can even dig deeper by asking probing questions, which we’ll get into soon.
Why are BBIs better?
Studies have shown that behavioral interviewing is 55% predictive of future on-the-job performance, whereas traditional interviewing methods are only 10% predictive. That’s a 450% increase in predicting performance – that’s huge!! Couple that with the fact that I’ve personally experienced the positive difference BBIs have in the interviewing process, and that’s why I highly recommend this method to all my clients!!
With BBIs, you don’t get the same run-of-the-mill responses that candidates have researched online. You get genuine experiences and you learn the way that they performed in a variety of situations.
- Are they cool under pressure? (Stress Management)
- Do they know how to utilize their resources, without tugging on your coattails all day long? (Resourcefulness)
- Are they able to stick with a project through to completion? (Follow Through/Tenacity)
- Are they going to offer creative solutions to challenging problems? (Creative/Innovating)
Conducting a Behavior-Based Interview using the STAR Method
Contrary to what a lot of folks think, interviewing is more than just asking a few basic questions and trying to figure out if you get along with the person sitting across the table from you.
My favorite part of a behavior-based interview is the fact that you focus on asking a limited number of questions, but you go super deep into each one of them to really learn how a candidate might behave or perform in the job for which they’re interviewing.
A widely practiced method of doing this can be remembered by the simple acronym STAR, which stands for:
Situation Task Action Result
By remembering and using the STAR method in conjunction with Behavior-Based Interviewing, you’ll be able to get a much clearer picture of how a candidate has performed in the past. And you’ll be able to determine if they’re trying to fudge their answers to just tell you what you want to hear (because trust me, it happens!).
Let’s break the components down and learn how to ask questions to get full and helpful answers!!
S – Situation: A specific event, circumstance, project, etc. in which the person was involved. The situation can help you understand what was going on and why or how the person was involved, as well as the atmosphere (stressful, carefree, etc.).
T – Task: The job, duty, chore, assignment, or goal that the person was supposed to achieve. Understanding the task can help you learn how how the person approached the job or goal set forth, and whether or not they accomplished it or even exceeded it.
A – Action: What specifically did the person do in the situation to achieve the task? The actions that the person took are likely going to be the same ones they take in the position for which you’re interviewing them. Can they make quality decisions quickly? Are they organized or scattered? Dig, dig, dig! This part of the interviewing process will give you a glimpse into how they will work with and for you!
R – Result: What was the outcome? Did they achieve the task? How did they feel about their performance? How did others (co-workers, supervisor, etc.) react to the outcome?
Ask Probing Questions
How do you actually get a candidate to give you the Situation, Task, Action, and Result for each question…without telling them that exactly? With probing questions, my friend!
Probing (or follow up) questions are what you ask when you need more detail from a candidate. They usually start with who, what when, where, why and how. Here are some sample probing questions you can use during your next interview:
- Who was counting on you to get this done?
- What did you do next?
- When were you supposed to have this completed?
- Where did you find the information you needed?
- Why did you make that decision?
- How would you do it differently next time?
Keep asking probing questions to drill down into the details of the example the candidate has provided! Think of your interview as a conversation. When you’re chatting with a friend, you’re interested in finding out, “what happened next?!” The same type of questions make great follow ups when interviewing!
I truly hope these tips and suggestions help you tackle your first (or next!) interview with loads of confidence and tons of heart!!