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Developing and Training Behavioral Interviewers

In the last post on behavioral interviewing, I discussed how to purposefully create and develop a system of questions when using behavioral interviewing to choose a candidate for a position. However, it’s not just enough to know how to do it. Implementing behavioral interviewing, as a regular process in your company is critical to ensure a consistent recruitment strategy at all levels of your organization.

At its heart, behavioral interviewing turns an interview into a conversation based on storytelling. You’re asking candidates to tell you a story about something they’ve done in the past. The story is about an actual situation, task, action, and result. This structure not only tells you if the candidate can recall real details of what happened, but also gives you a consistent method to evaluate them.

According to, “Another benefit of the behavioral interviewing approach is that the entire process makes it much more difficult for the job candidate to exaggerate or create hypothetical situations.  As an interviewer, always be prepared to politely ask the candidate to elaborate if you think they might be saying something misleading or stretching the truth.”

Your priority in developing leaders to effectively interview is in teaching them the best ways to ask questions developed beforehand. There are many good ways to interview, and you should

  1. Make sure interviewers know that they should ask open-ended questions. Avoid leading questions that give away the answer—you want to know what the candidate has to say, not what they think you want to hear. When a candidate answers something vaguely, your interviewers should be trained to ask for more details, or more specific examples of situations. If the candidate is not particularly talkative, teach your interviewers to ask questions like “What factors led to this situation?” “What was your role?” “How did you respond?” and “What was the outcome, and would have done something differently, looking back?” This will help you make sure you get the most crucial information out of candidates.
  2. Also important is teaching your interviewers how to listen and direct the conversation in a focused way. When recounting an event or story, candidates may wander off topic. It is necessary that an interviewer keep them on topic, perhaps using some of the questions above to prompt them back into a certain direction.
  3. To create an atmosphere where candidates will feel comfortable answering fully and honestly, make sure that interviewers know to not convey any judgment or approval/disapproval in response to a candidate’s answer, both in words and in expression. Candidates are also evaluating the company at which they are interviewing, so it is important to be organized, cordial, and interested, so that they will want to work for you if you decide that they are the best person to bring on board. Interviewers should be just as aware how important it is to make eye contact and take notes as the candidates undoubtedly are from their own preparation.
  4. Finally, it should go without saying, but all interviewers should know that it is always necessary to treat all candidates with utmost respect, and to not evaluate them based on superficial impressions but on the quality of their experience.

How do you intend to incorporate these ideas along to the people interviewing new talent in your company?

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