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How to Hire the Best Talent: Competencies and Behavioural-based Interview Questions

One of the most used hiring tools is the interview. The best type of interviews are structured interviews, where candidates are asked the same questions in the same order that are scored using a standard rating scale. Information collected through a structured interview can help you to make reliable, valid, and legally defensible hiring decisions.

If you are looking for a way to measure how well someone’s competencies or skills fit those needed for the job, you can use behavioural-based interview questions. Behavioral-based interview questions ask a candidate to describe how they have acted or behaved in a specific situation in the past. One of the best predictors of future success is past success, so asking people how they performed in the past is a great indicator for how well they will perform in the future.

What Should a Behavioural-Based Interview Question Look Like?

1. Questions should be tied to competencies
A good behavioural-based interview question will relate directly to the competencies. The questions should not be leading and should allow the candidate to describe a situation when they recently (within the past 1-2 years) were able to demonstrate the competency in question.

2. Questions should include standard probes
You should include some standard probing questions or follow-up questions to ensure that you gather enough detail from the candidate to be able to score their answer. For example, to learn more about the specific actions that they took, you may ask probing questions such as, what was your role? or what were you thinking at the time? You may also want to ask them probing questions around what the result or outcome was as a result of their actions. Again, these probes should be standard and not lead the candidate to assume that there is a right answer.

3. Include space to take notes
Detailed note taking is an important part of any interview because it allows you to document the process and support your ratings. For behavioural-based interviews, you want to take notes on the situation/task, the action that the candidate took, and the result. These notes can be helpful for justifying the rating scores that you give.

4. Include a standard rating scale: Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS)
This type of rating scale uses behaviours or behavioural indicators to describe what effective and ineffective performance looks like. This ensures that candidates are more accurately and fairly rated.

Below you will find an example behavioural-based interview question, probes, and rating scale for the competency, Continuous Learning, so that you can see these four points in action.

Structured Interview Questions
Structured Interview Questions