Focus Your Interviews on Behavioral Competencies to Snag Quality Candidates

Use the SOAR method to ask behavioral-based questions and uncover the ‘real’ person behind the interviewee

Behavioral Interviews

You may have heard that, when it comes to finding the perfect employee, behavioral interviews are much more effective than traditional interviews. If you knew how much better they are, you might resolve to finally learn to implement this hiring approach.

Behavioral interviews are 500 percent better than traditional interviews at securing the right employee for the job, says HR consultant Bob Verchota in his webinar on behavioral interviews for AudioSolutionz. Traditional job interviewing tactics predict future job success just 10 percent of the time. That’s a lot of wasted effort—and a lot of missed opportunities to find the right candidate.

Dig for Treasure: 5 Behavioral Competencies

Behavioral interviews examine what psychologists call “behavioral competencies”—that is, the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that distinguish good performers from great performers.

There are five basic types of behavioral competencies, say Canadian hiring consultants HRSG:

  • Individual: personal attributes such as decision-making skills, confidence, and technical know-how.
  • Interpersonal: social traits such as energy level, communication skills, the ability to work in teams, persuasiveness, and problem solving capacity.
  • Motivational: attributes of a motivator, including the capacity to take charge, lead by example, and involve others in collaborative efforts.
  • Managerial: qualities such as team leadership, quick decision-making, analytical skills, and strategic planning aptitude.
  • Analytical: ability to analyze data, work with numbers, solve complex problems, and work with technology.

Get a Sense of a Candidate’s Obstacle-to-Action Experience

Once you have a good understanding of the five behavioral competencies, you’re ready to try the SOAR method.

SOAR stands for: Situation, Obstacles, Action, Results, according to a HumanResources.com article. The idea is to use these four categories to write behavior-competency-seeking questions that dig deep into a candidate’s past experience—rather than skim the surface.

SOAR questions might sound like these examples from New Face of HR:

  • “Tell me about a situation in which you were on a team that failed to meet its objectives. What could the team have done differently? What could you have done differently?
  • “Give me an example of an important goal you had to set and tell me about your progress in reaching that goal. What steps did you take?
  • “What was your role in your department’s most recent success?”

And a comprehensive SOAR answer to a question about a past collaboration effort might sound something like this, according to a Chron.com article: “‘Last year, our sales department discovered that residential customers were dissatisfied with the delivery time of items they purchased on the weekends. I was the salesperson designated to work with the shipping department on reducing delivery times. The first order of business was to streamline communication between sales orders and the shipping department. We asked IT to enable 24-hour capability for marking online purchases for shipment, instead of waiting until the next business day. Finally, we asked customers placing orders to provide us with feedback through a new web survey. The result was that we saw customer satisfaction with shipping delivery increase to 98 percent and, on average, we shaved 1.5 days off the regular shipment time.’”

Get Started: Learn 43 Questions to Ask

While capitalizing on the success of behavioral interviews sounds great, the process takes a lot of back-end work to make it happen and happen right, says Verchota.

In his AudioSolutionz webinar, “Behavioral Interviews—500% More Effective Than Traditional Methods,” Verchota presents 43 best behavioral-based questions to help you get started. If you’re daunted by making the shift to this different hiring approach, know that the payback makes the effort worth it, he affirms.

Labor is tight, and you need the best candidate you can find—every time. Don’t rely on antiquated methods to get the job done.

To join the conference or see a replay, order a DVD or transcript, or read more
Jeff Schmerker
About Jeff Schmerker
Jeff has extensive professional experience writing on a variety of topics, from pharmaceutical research to environmental history. He has published more than a half-dozen books, and he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor and restaurant reviewer. He lives in Missoula, Montana with his wife and son.