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How to Conduct Structured Behavior Based Job Interviews

Updated on January 19, 2016

Structured job interviews can be beneficial to employers because they can make comparisons between interview candidates much easier. Behavioral based interviewing allows you to judge the abilities of job candidates based on past performance. A competency rating system makes it easy to rate answers to accurately compare each candidate’s skills, experience, knowledge and abilities.

What is Behavioral Interviewing?

Behavioral Interviewing is a job interviewing technique based on the idea that the best predictor of future job performance is performance in past jobs, internships or college projects. Interviews focus on a candidate's experience, actions, knowledge and skills from prior employment and projects.

When you get incomplete or very general answers to questions, it's very difficult to properly compare and evaluate all the candidates. You may make to mistake of hiring someone based on their personality at the interview. Someone who interviews well may not actually be a good employee.

A behavioral based interview keeps you focused on knowledge, skills, actions and results. Answers should be based on the STAR Method. You should expect answers or probe for answers to find out the Situation or Task, Actions taken and Results. See How to Prepare for Job Interviews Using the STAR Technique for more information on the STAR interviewing technique.

What Is a Structured Job Interview?

Structured job interviews are standardized interviews. All candidates are asked the same questions in the same order. It's far easier to compare the answers and abilities of candidates when you stick to the same set of questions for everyone.

Using structured, behavior based interviews with a competency rating system may help you more easily evaluate job interview candidates.
Using structured, behavior based interviews with a competency rating system may help you more easily evaluate job interview candidates.

You should come up with a list of questions to ask job candidates based on required competencies. Depending on the type of job these competencies may be customer service skills, technical skills, management skills, etc. Make sure you have questions that adequately determine ability in all relevant areas.

You can always probe a candidate for more information to get more detailed answers to your questions. Make a list of potential probes for each question you may need to use, so you can be consistent with all candidates. Avoid trying to lead the interviewee to the correct answer.

What is a Competency Rating System?

A competency rating system is used to evaluate responses on a scale that the interviewer determines. You have to determine this scale in advance and rate each answer based on your scale. The scale you use will depend on your business. You can set the minimum ratings required to move onto the next stage of the interview process. For example, only job candidates who had a minimum of 2 on all of their answers will be called for a second interview.

You can also develop a different competency scale for different kinds of competencies, such as interpersonal skills, technical skills, problem solving skills, etc.

Sample Competency Rating System

Rating
Description
0 - Unsatisfactory
Candidate failed the question. This may involve ignoring safety requirements or company policies.
1 - Basic
The candidate lacks knowledge and experience.
2 - Proficient
Candidate has knowlege but lacks experience. In this situation a candidate might know what to do but may have no experience actually doing it.
3 - Advanced
The candidate has some knowledge and experience. In this situation, a candidate may know how to solve a particular problem and have experience doing it but they could have performed better than they did.
4 - Expert
The candidate has expert knowledge and experience. This is someone who knows how to go above and beyond requirements.

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