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Hiring the Golden Unicorn Part 4: The Recruiting Process

“The key asset to a business – the only one that provides a sustainable and competitive advantage – is its employees, their skills and their dedication.” 

~ Robert Reich, Former US Labor Secretary.


To wrap up this four part series on hiring that person you can trust – your Golden Unicorn – let’s talk about putting all the pieces together into your Golden Unicorn Recruiting Process.

1. Clarity

In part one of this series we discussed how to find your key talent by first having a greater understanding of your personal and your business vision, mission, values, company structure, strengths and weaknesses. You must first understand yourself and what you really need before you can begin the process of finding the person who can fill those needs. I tell my clients consistently – clarity is the first key to success.

2. Components

In part two we discussed the components you need to think about when creating or filling the position, including the competencies, qualifications, and brain style needed for the position. In addition to all the factors listed in the post, another element you should calculate are the costs associated with hiring a new person. Think of the cost of recruiting, training, salary and benefits, workplace integration (buying their office equipment, supplies, bonding with the group, etc.). The “accepted” bottom line is that the “fully-baked” costs of an employee is 1.5 to 3 times their salary. This sounds like a lot! So, compare that higher cost with the cost of the pain you have by not having someone in that role.

3. Questions

In part three we talked about the interview itself and how to ask the questions that require them to show you their thinking process rather than pat answers. Your behavioral based questions are what are called Open-Ended Questions. It enables the person to choose how much and what to tell you. You should also have a few Closed-Ended Questions (those requiring a yes/no, right/wrong, black/white, decisive answers). You want a balance of these so you get a real sense of their thinking patterns and their ability to be decisive and concise as well. Also, be aware of which questions you CAN’T ask as well – nationality, religion, age, marital/family status, gender, etc. Here is an article from HRWorld on 30 Interview Questions You Can’t Ask that may give you some clarity.

4. Champion

Once you’ve developed your job related hiring process; focused on the skills, competencies and behaviors required to succeed; used a job description as your guide; prepared for each interview; used behavioral interviewing – please make sure you follow up by checking their references! This will finalize the hiring you’re your Champion, your Golden Unicorn.

If you haven’t attracted the right candidates using these steps, take a step back and see if you’re the problem. Jeff Haden, an Inc. Magazine Contributing Editor, wrote an article about the 5 Reasons Hiring Processes Never Attract the Best People (Like You). It’s about the obstacles you put in place that are off-putting to those Golden Unicorns.

So, now that you’re the solution (instead of the problem) you know what direction your company is going in; you know what type of talent you really need; you know what type of skills sets they need for the work; you know how much it will cost and have set a budgeting forecast; you have created a workable recruiting process to find the Golden Unicorns – the Ideal Candidates; then you have created your hiring plan.

What is the best part of your current attracting, interviewing, and hiring the right person for the job? Share with us!

Hiring the Golden Unicorn Part 3: Behavioral Interviewing

Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.


In part one of this four part series we discussed how to find your key talent by first having a greater understanding of your vision, mission, values, company structure, and your strengths and weaknesses. Last week we discussed the questions you need to think about when creating or filling the position, including the competencies, qualifications, and brain style needed. This week we’ll talk about the interview itself and how to ask the questions that require them to show you their thinking process rather than pat answers.

Finding that right person who will fit into your culture and do the job you need them to do is vital to helping you get to the next level. One of the key components of finding the right person, the key talent, the golden unicorn, is the interview. Asking questions that reveal how the candidates have done things in the past, understanding their thought patterns, and being able to translate that into how they may work in your company or team is very important. To do that, you can conduct behaviorally based interviewing. Behavioral interviewing is based on the premise that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.

Many think that asking people how they would solve a hypothetical problem is useful in interviewing.  It is actually more effective to ask people what they DID (that is, how they behaved) in past situations that are similar to your context.  They should relate specifically to the position and the knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies needed to be successful in that specific position.

Start with a set up question such as, “This job requires you to … Have you done that in your previous work?” Then move into behavioral based questions such as:

  • Describe how you’ve done that in your career.
  • Describe a success you’ve had in doing that.
  • Describe a situation where a problem came up in doing that.
  • How did you solve the problem?

Or behavioral questions such as these:

  • Accomplishment: Talk about a time when you worked your hardest, went above and beyond the call of duty. What was the project or task? What was your role? What was the outcome? What was the reward?
  • Adaptability/Resiliency: Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.
  • Analysis/Problem Solving: Describe when you or a group you were a part of was in danger of missing a deadline. What did you do?
  • Conflict Management/Dealing with Difficult People: Describe a time when you worked with others who did not work well together. How did you deal with it?
  • Customer Service/Client Focused: What is your philosophy of good customer service? Describe a time when you used this customer philosophy to deal with a perplexing problem.

What are the major areas in which you need someone to be successful in this position – customer service (internal or external customers), decision making, planning, time management, teamwork, leadership? Write a question that is a realistic representation of how they would handle a problem or solution in that area. Make sure your questions are relevant to your position and not something you found off the Internet. Absolutely use those as a basis, but ensure that you create your own so the answers you get will help you better translate how the candidate will work in your team or organization.

The whole interview isn’t behaviorally based. You need a mix of good old fashioned questions that get you pertinent information as well. However, have enough behaviorally based questions that you really feel as if you know their thinking process (does it fit with the brain style required for this position), their values (does it fit with your company values and culture), and their confidence (how do they handle stressful situations where they need to problem solve).

Also, make sure you check with Human Resources for the questions you are not allowed to ask. There are definitely interview questions that fall into the illegal realm. You can’t ask about family, age, religion, etc. Enjoy the interview, however, ensure you don’t get so comfortable that you move into some of the illegal questions merely out of curiosity for another human being.

What are the benefits of behavioral interviewing?

For the employer you’ll more likely hire the best person for the position, they’ll be more productive faster because they’ll need less initial training and development, they will see how their work ties into the organizational performance and thus you have a greater chance of retention.

Your candidates will benefit because it is an opportunity to ensure their skills are a good match to the position which leads to greater satisfaction, engagement, and self-confidence. They will immediately see how their contribution is directly related to the organizational goals and can see the organization as a place to build their career.

To listen to me talk about this in the Insider’s Guide to 5-Star Customer Service Telesummit click here. To get a free copy of almost 100 behavioral interview questions by category, click here.

What are your best behavioral interview questions? Share with us!

For information on leadership, Hiring the Golden Unicorns, Emotional Intelligence & Negotiations, Strengthening your Inner Genius, or any of our programs, call us at 682.200.1412 or go to http://www.apexmastery.com/