Today's Date is April 9, 2020

Behavioral-Based Interviewing

The best predictors of success are a track record of high energy (work ethic, initiative), team leadership and some level of comparable past performance. The likelihood of success is high for candidates with this profile, plus a strong ability to adapt and produce in a new environment. Using just four questions, this type of profile can be determined for any candidate. Asking about 4-8 major past accomplishments in a patterned question format is the key to this type of interviewing approach. The accomplishments need to involve individual, team and job specific efforts. When combined with fact-finding, these questions can reveal all the important details of each accomplishment.

The Four Question Interview

Ask SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Result-based, Time bound) questions to help you better qualify candidates by focusing on what the candidate has actually done so you can make better hiring decisions!

  • Situational questions like these get at job-specific problem solving, flexibility, insight, communication skills, strategic and tactical planning and intelligence.
  • Use fact-finding questions and lots of examples to get all the necessary details, e.g., when, why, how, impact result, time.
The QuestionsNotes/What to Listen For
Question 1:
Please describe your most significant accomplishment.
Ask for the past 2-3 jobs; listen for personal energy and impact! Use fact-finding questions to get lots of examples and details – when, why, how, impact, results and time frame. Ask SMART* questions and measure the trend over time.
Question 2:
Please draw an organization chart and describe your most significant team or management accomplishment.
Look for span of control and team leadership over the last 2 – 3 jobs. Get examples of the candidate’s actual role, time and effort involved, interpersonal challenges, motivating others and dealing with conflict.
Question 3:
One of our key performance objectives is_________(Describe objective). Tell me about your most significant comparable accomplishment.
Look for Job Specific Competency – get details to minimize exaggeration. Anchor each major performance objective with a past accomplishment.
Question 4:
If you were to get this job, how would you go about implementing and organizing the______________(Describe performance objective)?
Look for adaptability and ability to contribute in a new environment. Ask about top 2 or 3 performance objectives.

* Every job has five or six major things that need to get done (performance objectives) for the new employee to be successful. Make all objectives SMART – Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Result-based, Time bound)

Behavioral-Based Interview Questions
Leadership Identity
Leaders don’t just embrace change; they are "change agents." Give us a recent example of a time that you created change, directed change---a time when you were a change agent.
Do you enjoy the responsibilities of leadership? Give us an example of a situation that illustrates your successful leadership as well as your enjoyment of the role.
Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he/she wants to do it." When has this worked for you? How did you lead this person to want the change?
When have you been rewarded for your leadership? What exactly did you do to deserve the reward?
Give us an example of a time you had to persuade senior management to adopt a program or strategic direction that was not popular. How did you handle it? How successful were you?
Influence Skills
 When have you swayed the team to take a different direction? When have you tried without success? Elaborate...
 When have you been successful at challenging conventional thinking?
 Successful performers are able to motivate people to act. When have you been at your best in this arena? When has this been most challenging and why? What ways did you motivate people to act?
 When have you actually developed a strategy to influence a group or individual? How did you persuade those standing on the edge of the field to join your team?
 Give me an example of a time you were able to "work the system" to get results.
Team Player
We cannot do everything ourselves. Give me an example of a time when you dealt with this reality by creating a special team effort at work. Highlight the special aspects of the situation which best demonstrate your skill in this area.
Tell me about a time when you pitched in to help others with a project or deadline that was not directly within your responsibility?
Tell me about something you learned from a peer.
Give me an example of a time you repositioned a concept based on gaining a broader perspective from your colleagues.
Tell me about a time in which you had to work with a diverse team (i.e., marketing, advertising, promotion).
Tell me about a time you faced opposing points of view, and were pivotal in helping the team reach a successful conclusion.
Tell me about a situation in which you had to keep people from other departments informed of your progress on a specific project.
Describe your most successful team experience. What was your role? Why was your team successful? Be specific.
Selection Skills
Give me an example of the best hiring decision you ever made. How did you go about the hiring process? What qualities about the candidate impressed you to make a job offer?
Tell me about your worst hiring experience. Were you able to identify something missing from your screening process?
Tell me about your process for selecting members of your team. Talk about a successful selection, and one that was not successful.
How do you choose your interview team when considering a candidate?
Tell me about your current team's strengths and weaknesses? What is your process to assess them?
 Team Management
Tell me about a time when you changed a person/group's mind over something big.
Tell me about a time when you were successful leading a team.
How have you rewarded and encouraged team members during tough times?
The term "participative" management has been used for years to describe a technique of building team spirit by listening to team members and collecting suggestions from others. Describe a time when you used suggestions to build team commitment.
Pick any event from the last five years of your life in which you were an example of high motivation for other people to follow. Being specific, tell me about the event.
What rewards have you used to motivate team performance? What works best?
Coaching & Counseling
Who are your (1) most effective subordinate and (2) your least effective subordinate? What have you done to develop each of these subordinates?
How are you helping your subordinates develop themselves? Give examples.
Tell me about your most challenging employee relations issue. How was it resolved?
Think of a time when you knew of a problem between two of your employees. How did you handle it?
Give me an example of how you used your own personal qualities and appeal to lead others.
Our teams are made up of all sorts of personalities with individual ideas. Being able to change another person’s behavior is both a skill and a responsibility. Tell me about a time when you were successful in this area -- what kinds of payoffs were accredited to yourself, the other person, and the team?
Tell me about a time you had to confront poor performance. What did you do? How did it turn out?
Tell me about a task which you were hesitant to delegate, but you did so anyhow to develop an individual on your team?
Tell me how you ensure that your direct reports understand your vision and goals?
How do you measure your team’s success and the individual contributor’s success?
Holding team members, as well as yourself, accountable is part of a company’s culture. Give me an example of a time when you had to be assertive in giving directions to others.
Instead of simply using authority to influence others, it is more desirable to lead team members by setting a positive example. Describe a work situation when your example served as a model for others.
Careful listening and effective communication goes together. Tell us about a specific time when your skill in listening helped you communicate better.
Share a specific experience you had that illustrates your ability to influence another person using your verbal communication skills.
This job will require you to spend a significant amount of time communicating to others. When have you had to work in this kind of situation and how did it affect you?
Tell me of a time when communication was essential. What methods did you use to keep people apprised of what was going on?
What types of experiences have you had in talking with customers/clients? Tell me about a time when you had to communicate under difficult circumstances.
Information Seeking
Tell me about a time you when you exercised good listening skills.
Give an example of a time in which you had to use your fact-finding skills to gain information for solving a problem. Then tell us how you analyzed the information to come to a decision.
Describe the last project that required you to gather information from a variety of sources. Who did you contact and why?
Tell us about a time when you had to give constructive feedback. Was the information helpful as a means of self-improvement?
Tell us about a time when you received constructive feedback. Did you welcome the feedback?
Informal Communications
Tell the panel how you have effectively handled an interaction with a manager that had a pressing business question outside of your immediate work area?
Tell me about a time you had difficulty getting your message understood in an unexpected meeting because you were caught off guard. What would you do differently next time?
Describe a time when you communicated something unpleasant or difficult to someone.
What experience do you have in reporting projects, status etc. to management in an informal manner?
High Profile Communications
Tell me about a time when you delivered bad news to someone of a higher status.
Describe a situation where your negotiation skills were critical to obtaining the desired action.
Describe a situation where your negotiation skills were tested and you did not get what you wanted or where you had to compromise.
Have you ever managed people or units reporting to you from different locations? How did you take charge of tough or crisis situations?
If we received a piece of correspondence from a consumer expressing dissatisfaction with a form letter they received, what steps would you take to handle this consumer yourself or propose a solution for another to resolve?
Writing Skills
Have you ever been involved in creating a mission/vision statement for your team? What written skill(s) did you use to create a final draft of the statement?
Describe the most significant written document, report, or presentation you have had to complete. What software packages did you use?
Give an example of the most complex written project that you have created for management. What process and/or tools did you use?
What kind of writing have you done? Share an example. (Follow up on one example) How did you approach it? Tell me about its content and the reactions you received.
In some jobs it is necessary to document work thoroughly, in writing. For example, documentation might be necessary to prove you did your job correctly or to train another person to do their job. Give us an example of your abilities in this area.
Meeting Facilitation
What are your thoughts on how you validate someone’s grasp of information during a course/meeting?
What pre-work would you do to ensure the best use of meeting time?
The ability to translate presentation skills from the more formal stand up environment to the informal is a requirement for the effective communicator. Describe your abilities in both settings. Which style are you more comfortable with and why?
Sometimes during a presentation you may get interrupted or distracted from your original agenda. Describe how you maintain control of your meeting or presentation.
Describe your effective meeting skills. Highlight the difference between an informational and a decision-making meeting.
Values People-SensitivityTell me about a specific experience that illustrates your ability to create a competitive advantage for your business unit or company by empowering individuals on your team. In what ways did you empower those individuals?    Organizational Awareness
Many groups within a matrix structure have varying priorities and agendas. How do you recognize and surface conflicting agendas? Give an example of a time when you utilized your organizational savvy to keep objectives in sight while completing projects.
Organizational dynamics are often guided by friendships & relationships. Provide an example of an occasion in which you were able to establish a good working relationship with an individual or group of individuals to get better results or faster service.
Building relationships with key stakeholders internal to the company can be a great way to gain support for your work. Give an example of a time when you were able to utilize your internal networks to develop "buy in" and rally support for your work.
Networking with peers and professionals can be very time consuming. How do you prioritize your time to effectively network with others? Describe a situation where you were able to achieve results through your coalition of business associates.
Which external professional associations do you belong to currently? What benefit does your affiliation with these organizations provide?
Global Thinking
Tell me about a time when have you translated an idea or project across into the world marketplace. What were some of the specific issues that you took into account?
Give me an example of a specific time when you considered your company's global interests when planning and/or making a decision.
Give me an example of a time when a company did not adequately consider the implications of the global marketplace.  What would you have done differently?
Creativity means stepping back from regimented ways of thinking. When have you been able to break out of a structured mind set and intuitively play with concepts and ideas?
How have you helped design a vision in the past?
How have you communicated a vision to your team? How have you helped your team reach its vision?
How have you used your vision to set future sales direction?
How have you helped develop a creative vision in the past?
How have you taken a creative vision and made it real and not just an idea? How have you made it visible and real for your team?
How have you used your previous experience to set future design direction?
Cross-Cultural Skills
Tell me about a time when you had to adapt your personal style to be flexible to another culture’s differences. Describe the situation, and the outcome.
Describe a situation where you were particularly perceptive in recognizing cross-cultural cues in another person. What were the cues, and how did you respond?
Describe a situation at work where customers and/or coworkers did not use English as their primary language. How did you facilitate communication amongst the team members?
Describe a time where you had to conduct a high-pressure negotiation or deal with customers who did not use English as their primary language. How did you prepare for this meeting? What contributed to its success or lack of success?
Resource Efficiency/Multi-tasking
How do you manage multiple, competing priorities?
Give an example of a time management skill you have learned and applied at work and how it has improved your productivity.
Give an example of a situation where you created a planning forecast. What type of statistical procedures, if any, did you use?
Review your experiences in the areas of scheduling people and tasks to create a productive working environment. (for management position)

 Business Analysis & Quantitative Skills
Give an example of a decision that you made based on complex financial information that you had to analyze.
Give an example of a situation where you helped establish metrics for an area where none previously existed.
Give an example when you were systematic in identifying a potential problem at work. How did you analyze the situation? (Do they get to the root cause and then solve?)
To what extent do you get involved in quantitative analysis or number crunching in your current position? Give an example.
Strategic Planning
Tell me about a time when you established a long-term business strategy based on a company initiative.
Provide an example of what type of resources you have utilized to help construct a business strategy.
Share with me any previous experience you have had in establishing teams that set and implement strategic, long-term initiatives.
Give me an example of a time when you had to alter a critical business strategy partially through the implementation process.
In the past, how have you evaluated the effectiveness of action plans associated with strategic business planning?
Consumer Relevance
How have general business trends affected your current (or previous) employer within the past year?
Tell me about a time when you have been involved with the evaluation of product and/or service levels at the wholesale or retail market.
How do you personally stay abreast of changing market conditions that affect the profitability of your (or previous) employer?
Give an example of when a decision you have made favorably affects the time it takes to get product to market.
Share with me an example of how you have taken input from merchants and/or retailers and built a business strategy to respond to those customer expectations.
Share with me an example of how you personally have improved a process to yield a major contribution to the "bottom line".
Tell me about a time when you have had to build a project team to accomplish a business objective that intersected traditional organization structures.
Explain to me how you use creativity and ingenuity in your current (or previous) role to exceed standard expectations.
Are there any examples of your own work processes and/or planning that your manager would describe as "visionary"?
Can you share an example of how calculated risk-taking has beneficially affected the outcome of a particular business or process?
Brand Management
Describe the brand philosophy of your current (or previous) employer.
What specific accountabilities in your current (or previous) position assist in building and maintaining brand integrity?
Share an example of a time when you have sacrificed short-term expectations to achieve long-term brand integrity.
What contributing influences have you considered when weighing difficult decisions associated with brand management?
Describe a time when you had to make a decision and take a stand against the pressure of peers to support it.
Explain what you do when you have to confront a difficult work situation with confidence.
Personal Responsibility
Provide an example of a time when you had to take accountability for a mistake or failure at work.
Often, one must take on a leadership role within a team to help drive a project to completion. When have you done this and how did you hold yourself and others accountable?
Sometimes, professionals find that they do not have skills or acumen needed to complete a task or project. Tell me about a time when you identified learning opportunities in your professional career. How did you take personal responsibility to obtain the acumen you needed to complete the job?
Results Orientation
Successful performers are achievement-motivated. They want to win and the win itself is the reward. Give me a recent example of a time when the win itself was your reward.
Walk me through an example of a goal you’ve recently set: establishing the goal, monitoring the progress toward the goal and achievement. How did you stay on track? When was this most difficult?
Describe your most impactful accomplishment this past year. What process did you go through to reach achievement?
Tell us about a time when you felt the greatest internal pressure to achieve goals?
When have you been most successful at bringing closure to an ongoing project? When have you clearly been the one on the team to make things happen?
High Personal Standards
Tell us about a time when after achieving a goal; your first thought was how to do better the next time? Did you take time to celebrate the win?
How do you ensure that you are continually seeking to improve your personal best?
When have you most recently made a positive difference?
When standards are too high they can delay or even impede results. Perfection can paralyze. When has this been true for you?
Tell me about a time that you had to compromise your personal standards?
Successful performers possess and convey a contagious enthusiasm about tomorrow. Does this describe you? Please give an example.
When has it been most difficult for you to see the best in people and situations?
Tell us about a time when you were most proud about your ability to focus on winning, not losing?
Give some specific examples of how you display a positive outlook. What are some comments you’ve received from others in the workplace about your outlook on situations?
Tell us about a time when you had to deliver a difficult message of grim reality, yet remain optimistic.
Give us a recent example of a time that you were inventive or imaginative in the way in which you solved a problem?
Thinking "outside the box;" give us your best example.
How have you fostered imagination and creativity in others that report to you?
Creativity must be coupled with action and results. Give us an example of a great idea that you actually made happen.
Are you always seeking better ways to do things? Give examples where.

 Problem Solving & Decision Making: Judgment
Give me an example of a time when you developed several solutions to a single problem and how you decided which one to select.
Give me an example of a time when you stuck with your decision even though others disagreed with it.
Tell me about a time when you were able to be objective about a design even though you were emotionally attached to it.
Give me an example of a good design decision you have made recently.
Tell me about a design decision you made that positively influenced a major project.
Tell me about a time you acted too quickly and how you learned from that situation.
Flexibility/Tolerance for Ambiguity
Tell me about a time when you had to revise a design within a short time frame.
Give me an example of a time when you had to present a design concept with little time to research options.
Tell me about a time when you had to quickly commit to a design direction.
Describe a high pressure situation you had to handle at work.
Give me an example of a time when you had to change design direction in the middle of a project.
Tell me about a time when you had unreasonable expectations placed on you?
Curiosity/Learning Agility
Describe a situation where you went out of your way to learn a new skill.
Talk about a time when you had to share specialized knowledge with coworkers. How did the situation arise?
Describe a time when you had to quickly learn a new skill to handle a changing work environment.
Describe a relationship that you’ve had with a customer or vendor where high ethical standards and good sportsmanship produced strong results.
Describe a difficult situation with a co-worker, employee, vendor, or customer that you resolved using high ethical standards and concepts of fair play.
Tell me about a time when you were working with individuals whose standards did not match yours. How did you handle the situation? (again, can be co-workers, employees, vendors, or customers)
Capacity/Resistance to Stress
Tell me about a time when you became very stressed at work. What was the situation, and how did you handle it?
Describe a situation where you "went the extra mile" to accomplish a goal/project.
Describe a situation when your ability to stay calm under pressure was tested. What was the situation, and how did you handle it?
Tell me about a time when you did not handle a stressful situation productively. How would you handle it differently a second time?

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