Not all interviews are created equal. Behavioral interviews just happen to be better than most.

By using a candidate’s past experiences to assess their future potential, behavioral interviews serve as one of the most accurate predictors of how a candidate would perform as an employee. 

The popular logic is that if a candidate exhibited questionable behavior in professional settings in the past, who’s to say that they won’t do the same in the future? And by the looks of it, this logic usually prevails: 89% of hiring managers and recruiters rated behavioral interviewing techniques as effective, which was more than any other traditional interviewing technique.

If you want to harness the full power of behavioral interviews and weed out bad hires, the first step is ensuring that your interviewers are trained in the art of this special type of interviewing. That’s right—candidates aren’t the only ones who need to prepare for interviews.

Read on to discover several best practices to emphasize in your behavioral interviewer training.

WATCH: We asked Socotra’s Head of Talent Acquisition about his process for coaching and training interviewers, including behavioral interviewing techniques and making sure he has a reputation as a trusted advisor and mentor.

Craft Strategic Initial Questions

Your interviewers’ questions for behavioral interviews need to be thoughtful and strategic. Now isn’t the time to say, “Tell me about yourself,” or the classic, “Walk me through your resume.” All of that information can be learned from the materials submitted in a candidate’s application. Now’s the time to dig deep.

The behavioral questions that your interviewers ask should get to the heart of a candidate’s experience and uncover specific competencies most relevant to the role, such as leadership, quick thinking, and teamwork. 

To ensure that the questions are purposeful, write down several of the competencies that an ideal candidate should possess. Then, plan out questions that prompt candidates to discuss past behaviors that allude to each competency. These questions should be open-ended and shouldn’t hint at the desired response.

Ask Explorative Follow-up Questions 

Ready to dig even deeper? Initial behavioral interview questions are effective on their own, but your interviewers must be prepared to probe further with follow-up questions.

Unlike initial questions, follow-up questions shouldn’t be pre-planned. Rather, they should arise from cues that your interviewers pick up on from candidates during the interview. This makes active listening a crucial component in successful behavioral interviewing techniques.

Follow-up is necessary when responses need more detail, don’t fully answer the original question, or outwardly attempt to evade the question. Non-verbal cues, such as a shift in a candidate’s demeanor, should also elicit follow-up.

These additional questions shouldn’t feel interrogative toward candidates. Rather, they should feel explorative, adding nuance and depth to a candidate’s behavior.

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Look Out for STAR-Studded Answers

As another component of proper behavioral interviewing techniques, your interviewers should keep an eye out for candidates that use the STAR method when structuring their answers.

The STAR method is a structure candidates should use to answer behavioral interview questions in a thoughtful manner. A STAR (situation, task at hand, action taken, and result) response contains a structured beginning, middle, and end. This adds a storytelling framework to a candidate’s response, providing fluidity, depth, and clarity for your interviewers. 

The structure of a candidate’s responses tells just as much about their competencies as the actual content of their responses. A candidate who effortlessly employs STAR likely instills meaningful thought into their everyday speech. If a job requires articulate communication, your interviewers should highly prioritize candidates who demonstrate STAR.

Remember to Practice Empathy

We all know how nerve-wracking a job interview can be, and the high level of thought that behavioral interviews require can feel even more stress-inducing.

When interviewers practice empathy, candidates feel at ease. Comfortable candidates are better equipped to demonstrate their abilities, which makes it easier for interviewers to assess their true nature and make smart hiring decisions.

Interviewers that fail to lean into their empathetic side are bad for business. 58% of job seekers reportedly declined a job offer due to a poor experience in the hiring process, meaning that an uncomfortable interview may prompt candidates to run the opposite way.

To practice empathy, interviewers should allow candidates an appropriate amount of time to think about each question before they respond. While interviews should be kept professional, starting each interview with light small talk can go a long way in alleviating a candidate’s stress. All in all, interviews that feel a bit more human form trust between interviewers and the candidate, cultivating the all-important candidate relationship.

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Ready to Elevate Your Behavioral Interviewer Training?

Behavioral interviews can be a fantastic tool for hiring teams, yet they are only as good as their interviewers. Enforcing training on proper behavioral interviewing techniques guarantees that your interviewers ask the right questions and use the best strategies to hire top talent and build meaningful connections with every candidate. 

Learn more about how interviewer training creates hiring success by reading our eBook, The True Cost of Untrained Interviewers.

About the Author

Rachel Heller

Rachel is passionate about creating and distributing powerful, engaging, and expert-vetted content. As the former Content Specialist at GoodTime, she covered the latest trends, insights, and expert recommendations for all things talent acquisition and recruiting.