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WHEN BEHAVIORAL INTERVIEWS SUCK: Hate the Player, Not the Game...

CAPITALIST NOTE - Rerun of something I ran last year - driven by a person who was waxing poetic about bad interviews.  Shirley - this one is for you.  Enjoy, you new reader you...

I like behavioral interviewing.  I don't want to go all movie trailer on you, but in a fallen world of talent identification, it's about all you've got when it comes to interviewing.  

Actual Experiences > Theoretical Bullshit.

But there are a lot of people out there who have been exposed to really, really sucky behavioral interviews.  They've met what I call THE ROBOT.  More from Ed Newman over at Accidential Entreprenuer:

"After leaving the corporate HR world, I spent a few years consulting, and before starting The Newman Group, I went on a few interviews. One opportunity was for a Sr. Program Manager position with a Fortune 100 company with a major league brand.  The round one interview was with the HR Rep so I knew what to expect, or so I thought.

I never imagined how bad it would be. He started out with some bullshit questions to validate information that was clearly stated on my resume. Then fumbling through the interview guide, he read a series of questions that started out with “can you tell me about a time when you…..”  It was evident that he was not really understanding anything I said because he was so focussed on making sure he had the STAR.

After the third STAR I felt like saying, “dude, really? Can’t you just tell me about the benefits?” It made me wonder if I was this bad when I was in his shoes."

Ed, as they used to say in the Yo MTV Raps era, "ain't never lied".  There are some horrific interviewers out there attempting to use the behavioral interview format.  They suck.

But guess what (and Ed would agree with this, I think)?  They also suck at anything that requires a performance.   Presentation?  They suck.  In charge of running a meeting?  They suck.  Gotta get some info out of a prospect to figure out the best way to win a deal?




It's a problem of theatrical performance when someone sucks at behavioral interviewing, a presentation or a conversation.  You use rules provided by systems like behavioral interviewing to give you guidelines.  If someones more concerned about the system than they are making the conversation real and authentic, one of two things has happened.

1.  They haven't memorized the components of the systems and need more study and practice time to pull it off in an authentic way, or 

2.  They can't perform when the lights go up.

They're ROBOTS.  It's not they're fault.  Train or get them out of the role.

Remember this post when you're either delivering training or involved in training when people don't want to break out and do SKILL PRACTICE.  It sounds lame.  It feels lame.  But how the hell are they going to display the managerial skill in question if they can't role play it during a training session?

Answer - they won't.  The person who interviewed ED didn't want to do the skill practice.  He's a robot.


Lori Jablons

Excellent post, KD! You totally hit the nail on the head with this one. I've seen this in action, and brother, it's painful.


Well said (no exclamation point...) It is about fluency. SKILL PRACTICE (not Role Play) is essential in learning.


KD -
Yes, I definitely agree. That guy probably sucked at just about everything. He could have pulled off the benefits overview though, or maybe the hours of operation, time reporting policy, and company picnic.

I think skill practice in training situations is ok, but it is even more effective if they can get some shadowing experience first. See how a real pro does it before they practice.

The old adage that practice makes perfect is BS - Only "perfect practice" makes perfect.


Awesome post! The guy should change his name to Hoover. Common sense conversations, not listed crap.


Yikes. For an article that critiques presentation and communication skills, the spelling and grammatical errors are numerous. I say it "sucks".


PREACH! If you are skilled in interviewing you can still make a behavioral interview question sound conversational, even if you have to push for more information. I have some hiring managers that I just convince to let me ask all the questions because I know they can't do it. Yes, they are the same people who can't pull off a presentation in a meeting or even a phone call in some cases.

Access Employee Database

True! If its not your game, don't fight it.

Kapta Systems

Incompetent employees are sometimes forced to do jobs they are not comfortable with or have no experience. This person might fall into both categories.

James Carter

Amazing, I have not seen this type of informative blogs before. Thanks. • The interviewer can also test your knowledge about the company. So whenever you go for the interview in a good company you should gather necessary information about the company like in which the company deals.

For more information related to this please visit: interviewsuccess.com


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