The Power of Behavioural Interviewing

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Andy Raymond.



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Hiring the right director or executive for a business is one of the most critical decisions an organisation can make. In a world where skills, achievements, and qualifications can look great on paper, it's equally important to assess a senior manager’s behavioural competencies.

Competency and behavioural interviewing are some of the most used in today's process. Whilst terms such as behavioural and competency terms are often used interchangeably, and there is some overlap in the questioning technique, they aim to uncover fundamentally different information.

Differences of Behavioural vs Competency

Behavioural interview questions are asked to understand the way an executive works and their potential cultural and team fit. Competency interview questions are asked to assess the specific skills and knowledge a candidate possesses that are relevant to the job. The former is based on an organisation’s values and way of operating, whereas the latter is based on the key criteria and roles and responsibilities.

Behavioural is a method of recruiting that focuses on the behaviours needed for the specific role, rather than solely looking at skills and experience. For example, behaviour interviews involve questions that relate to how a person would handle a difficult situation, or how they communicate to an individual or audience. To successfully use the behavioural interviewing method, a variety of tools and assessments are used. These highlight a candidate's performance in previous roles and how likely they are likely to fit into the workplace culture. It’s a useful way to approach recruiting, especially for jobs that require specific behaviours, as it helps to identify individuals who have the right behaviour to thrive in the position but may lack the desired qualifications or experience.

The Benefits of Behavioural Interviewing

  • Reduced Bias - Focusing on specific candidate behaviours instead of skills and experience helps to eliminate interviewer subjectivity and unconscious bias. By addressing an interviewee's responses and results in certain workplace situations, interviewers are less likely to be influenced by personal characteristics, such as ethnicity, gender, and age, and consider how they're likely to perform in similar scenarios instead. This also provides consistency within the evaluation process.
  • Reduced Employee Turnover - One of the main reasons a senior manager leaves a role is often the fit for the position and company. With behavioural interviewing, it’s less likely to happen.
  • Increased Candidate Success - With behavioural interviewing, a company can identify candidates who are likely to be successful in a role. They can single out the ideal person, knowing that they are likely to be a worthwhile and successful addition to the team.
  • Predictive Accuracy - Traditional interviews often rely on hypothetical questions, which allow candidates to provide idealised responses. Behavioural interviewing, on the other hand, uncovers a candidate's past actions and how they have dealt with challenges. This information is valuable in predicting how the individual will perform in a similar situation within your organisation.
  • Improved Dynamics Within a Team - It’s easier to create good team dynamics when you embrace behavioural interviewing, which is hugely important if you want employees to work well together. By understanding a person’s behaviour, you can make sure that they will fit into the company culture, in the knowledge that they will work well with others and seamlessly fit.
  • Revealing Real-World Skills - Behavioural interviews dive deep into a candidate's practical skills and competencies. By asking candidates to share real-life examples, interviewers gain insights into how a candidate has handled various scenarios.

How Businesses Can Embrace Behavioural Interviewing

Many businesses have discovered that embracing behavioural recruiting methods significantly enhances the effectiveness of their recruitment process. When evaluating a future leader, or manager it is easier to evaluate their previous experiences of failure and how they navigate the situation can be hugely insightful. It also allows the opportunity to probe and delve deeper into the candidate’s problem-solving skills.

Common behavioural interview questions include:

  • Which skills would you say are critical for working with a team?
  • What is your approach to handling project delays?
  • Has there ever been a time when you chose not to act in line with your organisation’s policy and operating methodology?
  • What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example of when you have had to use this approach with a senior colleague or customer
  • Give an example of a strategy or process that you implemented which didn’t work. How did you learn from it?
  • Tell me about a time you knew you were right, but still had to follow company policies or guidelines?

For many businesses, behavioural interviewing has become a key part of the hiring process, regardless of industry or sector. By focusing on past behaviour, this approach provides valuable insights into a candidate's skills, personality, and potential fit within the company culture. With the benefits of reduced bias, predictive accuracy, and improved cultural fit assessment, it's no wonder that behavioural interviewing has become a cornerstone of modern recruitment strategies. Incorporating this method into the hiring process will empower an organisation to unlock hidden potential and build a stronger, more cohesive team.

Redline Executive enable high-technology and engineering companies to build world-class leadership teams. We’re an industry-aligned partner for C and D suite permanent and interim hiring assignments.

To find out more information about our executive search process and methodologies, you can contact Andy Raymond, Director on +44 (0)1582 878907 or email ARaymond@redlineexecutive.com.

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