Interview Tips

Why Behavioural Interviews Don’t Work?

Written by mrafeeq · 4 min read >

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Behavioural-based interviews are commonly used for employers to gauge the suitability of an applicant. On the surface, hypothetical scenarios or real-life anecdotes might be able to give some insight; however, thanks to their overuse, behavioural interviews now measure how well someone can “sell” themselves into a job.

Because of the canned questions and rigid format, it is unfair to call this process an “interview.” Instead, based on these parameters, such sessions would better be described as “behavioural interrogations.”

What is a Behavioral Interview?

The behavioural interview is an in-depth conversation in which the interviewer tries to understand the candidate’s past behaviour in different work or social contexts and then draw conclusions about their future behaviour.

The employer tries to find out if the applicant has shown certain skills or competencies in specific situations. These are usually related to what they are looking for in their organization.

Employers often use behavioural interviews not only because they can get a better idea of how well the candidate is suited for the role they are hiring for but also because they give applicants an idea of what it will be like working at that company.

The whole purpose is to assess a candidate’s suitability for the position and the company. But the repetitive, predictable nature of behavioural interviews can hinder the hiring process. A more informal, unique approach can solve the issue mentioned above and increase the chances of hiring genuinely suitable people.

5 Reasons Why Your Behavioral Interviews are Likely Unsuccessful

Hiring is one of the most critical aspects of an organization. But, it is also one of the most challenging processes to predict the right candidate.

One of the reasons why hiring decisions are so difficult to predict is because behavioural interviews typically don’t work. This means that your current approach may not be good enough, and you need to change it. Here are five reasons why your interviews might be unsuccessful:

1) The questions are too vague

2) Questions are not grouped logically

3) The questions are too long or complex

4) You don’t have a variety in your interview questions

5) You didn’t have a plan A and B if they get stuck on a question

Why Do People Dislike Behavioural Job Interviews?

Job interviews are essential for any employer to figure out if they want to hire an individual. The discussion is meant to probe into the skills, experience, and personality of the applicant. Yet, some people still think that behavioural job interviews are wrong and need to be fixed.

Some people believe that employers should focus more on skills than personality traits. Others think that employers should not judge them on their past behaviour for they cannot change it now.

Others again believe it is unprofessional for an interviewer to know what someone did at their previous jobs as it may cause bias in the company’s decision-making process.

The main arguments against these interviews are that they take up too much time and resources (time-consuming), can be misused (less accurate) and can put off applicants (unfair).

Predictability

HR professionals and managers who conduct these evaluations are at a significant disadvantage. Like divulging the questions on an exam, every potential inquiry employees face is readily available online or through career counsellors. This allows them to rehearse or plan their answers perfectly and perhaps even insert some hyperbole.

A quick Google search about interview questions will turn up examples such as “tell me about yourself,” “explain a time when you went above and beyond expectations,” “provide an example of a workplace conflict and how you handled it,” or “why should we hire you?” — to name a few. Some of these questions are so open-ended, they make it difficult for a candidate to determine what information will be meaningful to the interviewer. More focused questions are vulnerable to deception since they can exaggerate or completely invent perfect answers that they feel will please the recruiter.

The bottom line is that while effective in theory, behavioural interviews have been so overused that getting the truth out of a potential employee is virtually impossible to guarantee. Consequently, an unfit person might get the job simply because he is skilled at rehearsing answers and telling interviewers what they want to hear.

Redundancy

In behavioural interviews, a commonly asked question is, “what do you feel is your biggest weakness?” This is utterly unnecessary for two reasons.

First, it’s implausible that a candidate will reveal a genuine flaw that could affect her chances of getting the job. Interviewers won’t get closer to the truth by asking this. You’re not going to hear actual red flags like “I don’t work well under pressure” or “I’m not always good at multitasking.” Chances are, candidates will say something along the lines of “I sometimes work too hard” or “I tend to be a perfectionist.”

Second, recruiters and interviewees alike are familiar with the questions’ expectations. The aim is for the candidate to indicate a weakness but then frame it to make it seem optimistic. Things like a solid work ethic or severe perfectionism can harm an individual, but they’re great “weaknesses” for an employer to see. After all, a workaholic with OCD can get a lot of tasks completed — provided the candidate isn’t lying about these characteristics. In short, it’s a test to see how well a person can bluff the recruiter, not a way to evaluate whether the “weakness” is genuinely detrimental or real. Asking for an answer that you know will be twisted is no way to establish trust, nor can managers expect to gain any valuable information.

Alternatives

In a working world plagued by rigid interviews, recruiters appear to have forgotten one crucial thing: the interview is a two-way street. This means that while managers are evaluating candidates, these individuals are also assessing the organization. Behavioural interviews, however, focus exclusively on the business. The behavioural approach doesn’t give unfit people a chance to filter themselves out. A potential employee should realize your office isn’t suitable for him, rather than reach that conclusion and quit six months later. A simple change like this can save a lot of money in wasted training and subsequent recruitment.

Asking questions created internally makes it impossible to come up with perfect answers. Because each company has specific values, goals, and job requirements, a candidate is less likely to predict the questions that she’ll be asked. Instead, ask things like “how do you feel our organization can help you grow and succeed?” or “what would you like to know about the position?” This allows candidates to explain how the job aligns with their career plans and make an informed decision about wanting the position.

The best type of interview isn’t an interview at all but rather a conversation. It’s an opportunity for managers to meet prospective employees and for the two to discuss what each side hopes to gain openly. Then, once both sides feel that an offer of employment is mutually beneficial, they can enter a potentially successful and fulfilling professional relationship.

Behavioural interview questions are designed to see how people would react in specific, hypothetical situations rather than test for skills and knowledge that have been proven through experience or experimentation. In contrast, competency-based interviewing focuses on evaluating an individual’s qualifications based on their past accomplishments and future goals. As a result, it requires more time upfront but provides you with a better hiring decision at the end of your process.

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