Hiring employees for your small business is one of the most important decisions you have to make as a business owner, especially in the early stages of your business. When you have a small business with only two or three employees, it’s especially important for them to be good employees. Making a mistake in a hiring decision costs you both time and money. To do the best job of selecting candidates, you may want to consider using behavioural interviews instead of or in addition to standard interviews.
Traditional interviews typically includes cognitive, personality, and hypothetical questions. Cognitive questions are good for assessing a candidate’s knowledge, and are therefore especially useful for positions where math, technical, or other special skills are required. Personality questions include such familiar interview queries as, “What is your biggest weakness (or strength)?” and are helpful in getting a sense of an individual’s basic personality. Hypothetical questions such as, “What would you do if you realized you weren’t going to be able to complete a project on time?” are used to reveal more about how a candidate may act in a given situation, as well as their ability to think quickly in response to a given situation.
While traditional interview questions can indeed be helpful in assessing a potential employee, they also have some disadvantages. Many traditional interview questions rely on what a job candidate says they will do. Unfortunately studies have shown that there is often a considerable divergence between what someone says they will do and their actual performance. Also, traditional questions often tend to be a bit closed-ended, failing to elicit in-depth responses.
Behavioural interviewing was developed in the 1970s, by psychologists, to assist employers who were often frustrated by frequently having the experience of thinking they’d hired a great employee, only to find that person’s actual performance on the job unsatisfactory. In short, behavioural interviewing emphasizes examining a job candidate’s past performance, based on the theory that this is the best predictor of their future performance. Research studies conducted since the advent of behavioural interviewing tend to confirm this basic theory, with some showing that behavioural interviews are 55% predictive of actual on the job behaviour. This is a marked difference from traditional interviews, which are often only 10 percent predictive.
Behavioural interviews pose questions such as, “Give me an example of how you dealt with a group project when you had problems with other group members?” instead of the traditional interview version, “How would you deal with problems working with another employee on a project?”. The difference is that the candidate is relating how they have actually responded to such a situation, rather than merely dealing with a hypothetical.
Behavioural questions are helpful in providing a look into a candidate’s real-life past performance. However, they are not designed to assess a candidate’s knowledge or specific skills. They may also be of limited use with younger candidates who lack experience. Therefore, your best bet for finding an ideal employee may be to utilize a mix of traditional and behavioural interview questions.