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Is Behavioral Interviewing Dead? The Internet Said So...

Deep thoughts today, people... Deep thoughts.  

Was at a conference last week and heard a keynoter basically proclaim the following (I'm paraphrasing):

"Behavioral interviewing is dead.  Just google the term and you'll find thousands of pages designed to help candidates beat behavioral interviewing."

OK.  Let me break that general thought process down a bit.  There's one word that comes to mind when I hear a thought leader proclaim that behavioral interviewing is dead with that logic as the reason. Rationalize

Rationalization.

People are tying to help candidates beat behavioral interviewing!!  That means it's ineffective as an interviewing technique, right?

Um, no.

When behavioral interviewing doesn't work well, it's because you haven't giving your managers the training they need to be successful.  Actually you might have given them the training.  What you haven't done is given them the gift of failure.

For anything related to manager training, failure=role play as part of your training.  You've got to give them real practice using the skills you're teaching them.  If they don't fail as a part of your training, there's ZERO chance they're going to try and use the skill in the real world.

If you don't force people to fail in your training, they'll never be effective in their real lives as managers.

Is behavioral interviewing the end all/be all?  No.  But it's an effective way to drill down on candidates (no hypotheticals! What did you do specifically in that situation?  Not the team - you!) if you give your managers the training they need.

I'm cool if you don't like behavioral interviewing - shine on, you crazy diamond.  Just don't fail to give managers what they need and then blame it on the Internet.  That's called rationalization not to train.

PS - If you're in the market for cool training your managers will actually like, check out my training series called BOSS - Leadership Skills for the Modern Manager.  It's full of stuff that will engage your managers and give them the skills (and initial failure) they need to get better!  Bonus - below is the first video we show as part of our behavioral interviewing training - featuring Vince Vaughn and Owen Willson (email subscribers click through for the video).

Comments

MattL

So candidates know about behavioral interviewing so they spend some time thinking about various scenarios they have encountered so they are more prepared and can effectively relate them to the interviewer... Win/Win! Maybe I have oversimplified.

Gary Dumais

Wow, thanks for pointing out this rather alarming trend with respect to how behavioral interviewing is being perceived. As a Business Psychologist, I can say that behavioral interviewing is still an effective tool that is a staple of my candidate assessment/selection process (along with other measures, like personality and cognitive assessments). It's almost as if people believe that the "list of behavioral interview answers" has been released on the internet, while professionals know that there are no "right" or "canned" responses that will "pass" the interview - it just doesn't work like that. And, in agreement with another comment on this article, I also believe that candidates preparing for behavioral interviews by thinking through their best work examples is a win-win for both the candidate and the interviewer. So, in my view, behavioral interviewing is "alive and well", and will be considered best practice for a long time to come.

Kimberlee, Esq.

Yeah, it bothers me that so many people (still?) think that interviewing is a gotcha game or a power play or a thing a person can "pass" or "fail." It's a pernicious perception on the part of both employers and candidates. Interviews should serve purely as a way to talk out whether the candidate is right for the role and right for the company. If candidates are preparing better for those conversations than they were in the past, that's perfect. That's ideal. Anything that will help me take the scared spitter-of-canned-responses candidate in front of me and turn them into someone who can just tell me about themselves, what they've done, and what they hope to do is great in my book.

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