The Revealing Power of Behavioral Interview Questions

ThinkstockPhotos-100612509Is it OK to use a question that is not behavioral? There is nothing wrong with using the traditional interview questions that people have been asking forever and are still asking today. However, it’s likely you won’t be able to tell if someone is lying by just asking questions like:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Why do you want to work for us?

The problem with these questions is that they will get you answers that may or may not provide the focused detail you need or may or may not be the truth.

In the 1970s, behavioral interviewing was developed by industrial psychologists that were researching the best interview questions. The theory behind behavioral interviewing is that the most accurate predictor of future behavior is a person’s recent past behavior in a similar situation.

The behavioral interviewer does more than simply ask the candidate if they have the required experience for the job. With behavioral interview questions, the candidate is asked to provide concrete examples of their recent experience.

How to Build a Behavioral Question

Behavioral interview questions are constructed as statements and made up of two parts: the Opening and the Problem or Situation.

Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer.
Tell me about your biggest success last year.
Walk me through how you influenced others.
Give me an example of when you had to manage a team.
Describe how you handled a dissatisfied client.


You can increase the challenge the question poses by adding a third part. The difficulty can be contextual—fast-paced environment or diverse geography. Or the difficulty can be created by removing resources — not enough people, direction, time or budget.


Opening Problem/Situation Increase Difficulty
Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer who had an unreasonable demand.
Give me an example of your biggest success last year that did not have enough budget.
Walk me through how you influenced others to help you implement an unpopular decision.
Give me an example of when you had to manage a team that you did not initially hire.
Describe how you handled a dissatisfied client who represented a large amount of revenue.


For our customers who use Accelerate’s hiring app, Talentron, the screen shot below is the approach we took to create well-formed behavioral interview questions.


Do you have any favorite tricks or tools you use to build behavioral questions?

John Boring

John Boring
John Boring is president and CEO of Accelerate Mobile Apps Inc, maker of Talentron.

John Boring

Share This Post


Related Articles

Powered by ·