Behavioral Interviewing

In an age of social media, where you can make yourself into who you want to be rather than who you are, how does an employer find the best fit for their culture? Where is the best place to start?

The answer is the interview.

Why the interview? By asking the right questions, you can find out about the candidate’s emotional intelligence.

What is emotional intelligence?

The concept of emotional intelligence was developed by Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist. The five elements of emotional intelligence include:

  • Self-Awareness: someone who understands his/her emotions
  • Self-Regulation: the ability to control emotions
  • Motivation: the desire to work, which can defer needs for long-term success
  • Empathy: identifying with and understanding the wants and needs of others
  • Social Skills: team players

Self-awareness is usually considered the most important part of emotional intelligence and empathy is typically considered the second most important element. Those with strong empathy are usually good listeners and excellent at managing relationships.

If you want to find out someone’s emotional intelligence, try behavioral interviewing. 

What is behavioral interviewing?  It is asking questions about someone’s experiences, not what they would hypothetically do. When people tell you what they think they would do in a situation, they are telling you what they think you want to hear. People are less likely to fabricate about what they have done in the past when they talk about experiences. That is why behavioral interviewing is so important.

What kinds of questions should I ask and what do those questions tell me? 

  • Can you tell me about a time when you had a difficult customer service issue and what you learned from it? — This question will tell you how the candidate handles difficult customer service situations, which will give you insight to how they will behave in the future. Listen for their self-regulation, empathy, and social skills.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deliver difficult news to someone? What happened?   It tells you that the person has had to tell someone something that was hard to hear and how they handled it. Listen for their self-regulation and empathy skills.
  • What is your biggest work mistake and how did you handle it? — It tells you whether the person thinks he/she is perfect or not. Do they feel they learned from their mistakes? Listen for their self-regulation, social skills, and motivation skills.
  • What types of people annoy you and why? — It tells you how attuned someone is into people that get under their skin. Everyone has a personality type or two that bothers them. Listen for their self-regulation and self-awareness skills.
  • If I asked your previous supervisor or professor what one thing you would add to my team, what would they tell me? — It tells you how the candidate is perceived by someone in authority.  Listen for self-awareness, motivation, self-regulation, social skills, and empathy skills.
  • If I asked your previous co-workers what one area of growth would be for you, what would it be? — It tells you how he/she works with his/her peers.  Listen for self-awareness, motivation, self-regulation, social skills, and empathy skills.

The answers to those questions help you see how that candidate will fit in your corporate culture. They also show you how the candidate will respond to criticism, to authority, and whether they will work better in a team or on their own.

Asking the right interview questions can help you choose the right candidate. Every time.



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