Have you ever been interviewing someone who keeps defaulting to the “we” answers?
“Well, when my team did…” or “We worked with…” You know what I’m talking about.
They’re broad statements that give you no insight into what the individual actually accomplished. Finding about their ability to work on a team isn’t a bad thing, but accepting glittering generalities during an interview is death to understanding the capabilities of a candidate.
So how, as an interviewer, do you ask the right questions to get a candidate talking about themselves? Behavioral Interviewing. Here at Kinetix, we preach the STAR Technique:
S – Situation
Detail the background, provide context. Where? When?
T – Task
Describe the challenge and expectations. What needed to be done? Why?
A – Action
Elaborate the specific action. What did you do? How? What tools did you use?
R – Result
Explain the results: accomplishments, recognitions, savings, etc. Quantify your output.
When conducting a behavioral interview, the key is understanding that most of your time on each question will be spent understanding the actions the candidate took given the situation or task. That’s where STARS comes in. On average, you should be spending at least 80% of your time during the behavioral interviewing stage asking questions like “Why did you do that?”, “What other alternatives did you consider?” and “Tell me more about what you did.”
Behavioral interviewing isn’t easy, but remembering common problem spots can increase your effectiveness immediately.
Avoid Generalities and Probe Deeper –
For each behavioral interviewing question, follow the STAR method for candidate responses. Be sure that candidates are explaining the background of the situation, what action was taken (in depth), and what the outcome was. If a candidate does not give you all three STAR criteria in his or her answer, ask probing questions to get the detailed information.
Stay Away from Hypothetical or Theoretical Questions –
It might seem helpful to know how someone would handle something if they faced it, but you really want to know how they have already handled it. A good rule of thumb—ask any behavioral question with the preface, “Tell me about a specific time when…”
Don’t Accept Answers that are Not in First Person –
Again, you want to know how the candidate handled a situation, not how their peers, co-workers, or bosses handled it. Do not allow candidates to take credit for the actions of others. Ask what the candidate’s direct role was in getting to the result. What specifically did he or she do? If a candidate is using “we” rather than “I,” you may find they were not as much as individual contributor as they make it seem.
Over time, you will become more comfortable with the technique, and it will be easier to pinpoint potential pitfalls that could undermine the information you gather from candidates. And as your behavioral interviewing techniques improve, so too will your ability to identify—and hire—candidates who best align with your needs and culture.
If you’re interested in learning more about Behavioral Interviewing, STARS, or other training resources check out BOSS Training.