Ask For More Than One Example To Get A Handle On Reality

Behavior based interview and reference check questions are based on the premise that previous performance is a better predictor of future performance than anything else.  So behavior based questions ask for specific examples, not generalities, of things an individual has done in the past rather than how they “might” do things in the future.  If people are asked how they should behave, most people can provide the right answer, but have they always done what they should have done?

When asking behavior-based questions in interviews or reference checks, hiring managers shouldn’t be afraid to ask for more than one example.  The first time the question is asked, the answer might include a situation so unique that most anyone would respond appropriately. However if asked for one or two other examples, the hiring manager will get a better feel for how this person reacts to more common situations. This is especially helpful when they’re probing an area of concern that may have arisen in assessments or previous interviews.

As an example, a hiring manager might ask someone, “Please give me an example of a situation in which you were expected to comply with a policy with which you didn’t necessarily agree.” The first example may be a great story and the hiring manager may even have follow-up probing questions, but when it’s done, simply ask, “Do you have another example?”  While it may sound too forced, it actually plays out far more conversational than one would think.

Empowered interviewers and those doing reference checks get to the heart of the matter by asking for multiple examples and make successful hires.

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