Interviewing job candidates is a tricky thing to navigate. Most interviews might start the same, but it can be hard to predict where they’ll go from there. At the end, you might decide you’ve found your top candidate, or you might decide that this particular candidate isn’t the right fit. Other times, the interview might steer you in a completely different direction: perhaps this candidate is perfect for a different position, something that just opened up but hasn’t been posted yet. Yes, the interview can be unpredictable – but unpredictability can have its downsides.
In a previous article about strategies to reduce turnover, we discussed how creating an interview guide can really help with capturing the information you need to make a more informed hiring decision. In that article, we mentioned that an interview guide can help hiring managers come up with standardized behavior-based interview questions that get asked to all candidates. I wanted to go a little more in-depth on how this process helps to improve retention.
First, here are a few steps you can follow to make sure your behaviour-based interview questions are as effective as possible:
- Confirm which behavioural traits are best suited for the position in question. If you use a personality assessment tool, you might be able to run a report that identifies this for you. If you don’t use personality assessments, this post about different behavioural traits might help you establish a basic set of requirements. (Yes, it's aimed at entrepreneurs. Yes, it's still helpful.)
- Design questions using the SARR method. Don’t just write down the first question; make sure you’ve got follow-up questions ready to go as well. This can help you get more detail out of your candidates, and it can also help quieter candidates to start opening up.
- Identify positive and negative applications of the behaviours identified. Do this before the interviews start, so your own examples aren’t influenced by what your candidates say! By taking the time to explore positive and negative examples of each behaviour identified in Step 1, you’ll have an easier time understanding how a candidate’s responses line up with your ideal job profile.
- Listen for examples of each behaviour during the interview. Like I mentioned above, if you’re listening for the behaviours that you’ve identified as being important, you’ll be able to make a distinction between whether or not they’re applied in a way that makes sense for this particular role.
Remember – you might have to start this process again the next time you have a position to fill. The behavioural traits that a candidate needs to succeed in one role will likely be different than the traits needed for success in another role. So don’t assume that your current questions, or the behavioural applications you’re looking for, will be the same the next time you’re hosting interviews. The more tailored your approach becomes, the more accurate your hiring decisions will become!
Now, the big question: what does any of this have to do with reducing turnover?
I’m glad you asked.
Future behaviour can be predicted by past behaviour. And if you can predict future behaviour, you can more easily determine who’s going to be the right fit for your open positions. Behaviour-based interview questions, and the follow-ups that come with them, can help interviewers get past vague or scripted responses – and really get to the heart of candidates’ past performance.
If a candidate’s responses line up with positive applications of a desired behaviour, chances are good that they’ve got the right temperament for the role. And having an employee whose temperament lines up with the work they’re going to do? Jackpot.
Asking the right questions, and digging deeper when you need to, can give you some amazing insight into your candidates’ personality traits. And these insights are another piece to the puzzle when it comes to hiring more accurately. And the more accurate your hiring decisions are, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to reduce turnover – and keep it low.
Good luck in your next interview!