Thursday 4 August 2011

Looking into the Crystal Ball: Predicting Future Behaviour of New Hires

Behavioural-based questions are a good alternative to situational question and have been shown to be one of the most effective structured interviewing strategies. These types of questions are based on the premise that: Past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour.

Past behaviour is often used to predict future behaviour in all facets of life. Banks lend money more readily to people with a proven track record of paying loans back. People continue to go back to stores that have given them good service.

The same concept is used in the behavioural interview. The questions are directed at obtaining information about the candidate’s past experiences and accomplishments in order to make a reliable prediction about how the candidate is likely to perform on the job. For example:
“Can you give me an example of a time where you had to deal with a particularly difficult student?”

If the target job involves teaching students in an academic environment, the interviewer would gather information on the candidate’s teaching experience in past jobs. If the target job requires handling marital disputes, then the interviewer would collect information on the candidate’s past experience in handling similar conflict situations. To effectively predict future behaviour, behavioural data does not need to come from past jobs that are identical to the target job. The data can include other life experiences, such as volunteer work, that provide information on the candidate’s job-related competencies. For example, an interviewer can evaluate the sales ability of someone who has never held a sales job by asking questions about situations in which the individual has had to persuade others, sell ideas to fellow workers, or influence a group.

The behavioural interview is focused on gathering examples of how candidates performed in previous jobs and situations that require the same kinds of competencies as the target job.
In contrast to the situational interview that asks candidates what they would or should do, behavioural interviews focus on what the candidate has actually done.

All of these types of questions can be included in the Competency-based Interview, striking a balance throughout the interview. However, since behavioural questions have been proven to provide one of the best indications of future job performance, as much as possible, the majority of the questions in the interview should be behaviourally-based.

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

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