Many people have found themselves on the receiving end of a behavioral interview. A style of job interview that came into fashion in the nineteen-eighties, behavioral interviewing is past-oriented, meaning that it operates under the theory that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance. Any time an interviewer asks a question like “tell me about a time when you dealt with a difficult client” or “describe a situation in which you successfully changed the mind of one of your supervisors,” that’s the approach they’re using.
Behavioral interviewing is falling out of fashion for some employers, however, because the process has several glaring flaws and blind spots (which we’ll get to in a minute). While that may come as a shock to some organizations, the good news is that there are ways to address these deficiencies — and one of the most efficient ways to round out an effective interview is to add a sales personality test to your hiring process.
One of the biggest issues with behavioral interviewing is the “canned question” factor. Oftentimes, behavioral interviewers find themselves asking variations on the same questions over and over — and sometimes asking the same questions verbatim. While “tell me about a time when you solved a difficult problem” may seem like a pertinent question to ask a candidate, the odds are almost certain that they will have prepared in advance for that question or one just like it. When that happens, you don’t learn anything new or interesting about the candidate. In fact, you just hand them an opportunity to put on their best face and show off. In fact, as Dr. John Sullivan notes, the deeper irony of such questions is that while qualified candidates coming from other positions may not have interviewed in a while, and may therefore be rusty, unemployed candidates will have had plenty of time to research and prepare — which may make their answers that much better.
There are dozens of websites out there with examples of behavioral interview questions and the best ways to answer them. At this point, a candidate offering a stunning answer to a behavioral interview question is hardly proof of anything more than their ability to use Google.
Another issue with behavioral interviewing lies with the interviewers themselves. Even experienced interviewers are only human. We’re all susceptible to bias. More serious biases, such as race, religion, or gender, are obvious, and any interviewer worth their salt will know to account for that. Biases that are slightly less commonly considered, though, can also have undue influence on our perception of a candidate: little things, like whether they have a sense of humor similar to our own or went to the same school that we did, may tilt the outcome of the interview in one direction or another.
Interviewers can also begin to feel fatigue after several interviews. After the fact, even detailed notes may not accurately bring to mind how well or poorly an interview went. Interviewers may not even give later candidates the same attention that they gave the first few interviewees, leading to inconsistency. Inconsistency does not only rob decent candidates of a fair shot at the position — it robs your organization of decent candidates.
Sales Personality Tests can offer a means to account for some of the issues mentioned above, no matter what kind of interview you conduct. One of the biggest appeals of a Sales Personality Test is that rather than using behavioral questions, they measure temperament and motivation as dictated by candidates’ responses to “symbols,” guided by years of psychological research. The test is also administered online, which puts less pressure on respondents. This allows for a more honest look at candidates’ true selves, instead of the polished, practised veneer presented at face-to-face behavioral interviews. Having this information beforehand will allow interviewers to weed out less-than-suitable applicants, helping to ward off fatigue and narrow the playing field in advance.
Once the tests are administered, the results of a candidate’s answers are sent directly to your inbox with detailed analysis. Not only is that far more convenient than having to sift through reams of hand-written notes, but it also guards against inconsistency and bias. Because the results sent to you are generated digitally, there is no chance of the “interviewer” giving any candidate less than a fair shake. With a touted accuracy of over 90 percent, a Sales Personality Test is a critical tool in any interviewer’s arsenal.
While interviewing will always be a complex task, it doesn’t have to be one that’s stuck in the nineteen-eighties. Moving away from the staid behavioral interviewing model and incorporating new tools and technologies is the first step in creating an easier, more effective hiring process.