A Behavioral interview is an interviewing techniques that employers use to evaluate a potential employee based on their past experience to understand the way they can react in various job-related situations. This is based on the belief that behaviours reflected by one in the past is the best predictor of their future performance.
This style of interviewing emerged in the 1970’s. Candidates are asked to describe their reaction to certain situations in the past by open ended questions on which further probing is possible to gain better and detailed responses. This gives the interviewer a clearer picture of the candidate’s attitude.
Difference between traditional and behavioral interviewing:
Questions based on hypothetical situations
Questions based in past experiences
Straight forward questions like “what are your strengths”
Skill based questions like “Tell me how you tackled the situation when you missed a delivery deadline”
Understanding the candidate
Understanding if the candidate has the required skills
Traditional interview question: “How good are your client communication skills?"
To this the interviewee can elaborate all the appraisals that they have received from clients and highlight all his strong points, but that does not help the interviewer in assessing him under stressful situations.
This same can be rephrased as an open ended and experience based question: “Tell me about a situation when you had to work with an dissatisfied client and how you managed to tackle the situation”
From the answer of this question the interviewer will be able to understand how the candidate tackles pressure, his communication skills, his ability to adapt to situations and also predict if he will be able to meet the jobs demand.
Thus from the past behavior of the candidate it becomes easier for the interviewer to predict how they might behave in the future.
This results in better hiring decisions which leads to lesser cost.
However, many in the industry argue that along with behavioral questions it is also important to include other questions to know more about the candidate, their aspirations, career goals, interest in the job etc.