Thursday 11 August 2011

False Behavioural Examples

When using the competency-based interviewing technique, it is important to understand how to properly classify and evaluate behavioural, or competency-based examples provided by candidates. In some cases, one can gain a better understanding of what behavioural examples are by defining what they are not. They are not statements of feelings or opinions, future-directed comments about what a candidate will do or would like to do, or vague statements that cannot be interpreted. All of these are false behavioural examples.

Theoretical or Future-Oriented Statements
Theoretical or future-oriented statements provide no information about past behaviour. They indicate what a candidate thinks they would do or should do, not what has been done.
  • “I expect to finish my degree next year, and go on to an executive position three years after that.”
  • “If I had been in charge of that situation, I would have made sure the client got all of the support he needed.”
Feelings or Opinions
Feelings and opinions provide no insight into behaviour. These statements are simply an individual’s emotional reaction to a situation or event.
  • “I am really good at teaching myself new software packages.”
  • “I was the best executive assistant and deserved more responsibility.”
Vague Statements
Vague statements are general summaries or descriptions of several past actions. They often contain descriptions of results that are reported in a very general way. In many cases, the candidate’s role is not clearly defined, as in the second example below. Interviewers must understand that when they get this kind of information, they must probe further.
  • “I always had the best interest of the customers in mind and never tried to get pushy or in an argument with anyone.”
  • “We prepared the report and submitted it to the President in record time.”
The questions in the interview guide are designed to obtain information about the candidate's experience and accomplishments that relate to the competencies that are important for success in the job to be filled.

For each question, you must obtain one or more specific examples of the candidate's experience and / or accomplishments ensuring that the candidate describes:
  • The Situation or Circumstances related to the example;
  • The Actions taken by the candidate to address the situation, along with the rationale for the action taken; and,
  • The Results or Outcome of the candidate's actions.
In order to obtain complete descriptions, it may be necessary to ask follow-up questions to clarify or obtain additional information on any one, or more, of the elements noted above (Situation / Circumstance, Action, Result / Outcome.)

Take notes on the candidate's answers during the interview in order to have an accurate record of the information on the candidate's experience and accomplishments to evaluate later.
Provide an opportunity at the end of the interview for the candidate to ask questions or clarify the next steps in the selection process.

This post is based on content from 'Effective Interviewing' by Human Resource Systems Group, Ltd.

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