A New Approach to the Hiring Process

Behavioral and situational interviewing techniques reveal how potential employees would handle future work situations. Interpreting the answers will give you a better gauge of a candidate’s true worth in your company.

What don't we have enough of? Time and money are two things that come to mind. In business, when we don't hire the right people for the job, we've wasted both.

Think of how much time and money it actually costs to employ someone. Besides obvious expenses such as salaries, federal and state taxes, benefits, uniforms and training, there are soft or unexpected costs incurred, such as loss of productivity or sales, advertising and recruiting for replacements and the possibility of paying unemployment benefits.

All told, the employment process can cost from 40 percent to 1.4 times an employee's base salary. A car rental agent with an entry salary of $22,000 per year could cost $33,000 to employ - at the low end.

Now consider the cost of having to replace an employee, as much as 150 to 250 percent of the employee's annual compensation. A seasoned car rental agent with a $44,000 annual salary would cost at least $66,000 to replace when it's all said and done.

Traditional Versus Behavioral Interviewing

You can save time and money in hiring - and gain a better candidate - by approaching the interview process differently.

Studies show that the typical traditional interview is a predictor of future performance only about 10 percent of the time. Traditional interviewing relies on standard and straightforward questions that are easily answered by candidates. They effectively tell interviewers what they want to hear, but not what they need to hear.

If an interviewer can glean information about past experiences or hypothetical situations, it becomes a better gauge of the candidate's true worth. Behavioral or situational interviewing has a success rate of 55 percent.

A study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) defines behavioral-based interviewing as "a thorough, planned, systematic way to gather and evaluate information about what candidates have done in the past to show how they would handle future situations."

Here are some examples of behavioral interview questions:

  • Give me an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult coworker. How did you handle the situation?
  • Describe a time when you performed a task outside your perceived responsibilities. What was the task? Why did you perceive it to be outside your responsibilities? What was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a time during your previous employment when you suggested a better way to perform a process.
  • Describe a situation in which your stress level was high in dealing with a customer.

Asking these types of questions will allow you to interpret how a candidate has reacted to real-world situations in the past. However, some planning and preparation are needed for this type of interviewing to work any better than the traditional methods.

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