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The Boomer Bulletin - 2009
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Finding the Right Person for the Job

Posted By Sandra L. Wiley, Thursday, October 22, 2009

Many firms are reporting success with behavior-based interviewing, a technique that gains insight into a job candidate’s performance in order to gauge potential success for a given role. Behavior based interviewing alleviates misunderstandings about an applicant’s past experiences, prevents personal impressions from affecting evaluations and reduces the likelihood an applicant will fake the "right” answer just to get a job.

Because it is highly interactive, this technique elicits responses that are meaningful in determining one’s legitimate fit for a position. The interviewer utilizes open-ended questions and statements to elicit detailed responses that speak to desired skills and behaviors.

To avoid getting a "yes" or "no" answer, begin each question with, "Tell me about a time," "Give me an example" or similar phrases that invite a detailed response. The "SAR” acronym is a helpful way to remember how behavior-based interviewing works. Here’s an example.

Situation (S)

"My manager asked me to be project lead for a paperless office initiative. I was directed to select a team and develop a plan that would result in the firm utilizing all paperless processes in just three years.”

Action (A)

"I began by looking at the firm’s strategic plan and utilized insight from friends at the Boomer Technology Circles. These resources provided the information I needed to get started and also alerted me to a few potential pitfalls I might encounter. I selected my team, and we worked to develop a plan that was eventually presented to the executive committee for approval.”

Result (R)

"There were many challenges along the way, but I am proud to say my team was successful. The firm is completely paperless today, and a story about the transition appeared recently in Technology Insider Magazine.”

Behavior-based interviewers usually ask a job candidate to do the following:

  • Recall a specific project on which he or she worked
  • Discuss his or her role in the project
  • Talk about specific problems encountered
  • Describe how he or she solved the problem

Consider these areas when implementing behavior based interviewing:

  • Technical — Job skills and related knowledge
  • Functional — Transferable skills, including managing and organizing people and information
  • Adaptive — Personal characteristics, such as dependability and a strong work ethic

For a list of behavior based questions to get started, e-mail Sandra Wiley at

Tags:  hiring  Human Capital  recruiting  Sandra Wiley 

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