WHAT IS COMPETENCY-BASED BEHAVIORAL INTERVIEWING?
Competency-based behavioral interviewing is a structured interview process that combines competencies with the premise that, with few exceptions:
- The best predictor of future performance/behavior is past performance/behavior.
- And, the more recent the performance/behavior, the more likely it is to be repeated.
The questions asked during CBBI are based on real situations that relate to the competencies for the position. Candidates, then, are evaluated based on actual behaviors/performance rather than on possible or potential behaviors/performance. As a result, the information gathered from the candidate is significantly more predictive of what their behavior and performance are likely to be in the position for which they are interviewing than what one finds with other interviewing styles.
In CBBI, rather than asking candidates directly if they have a particular competency—to which you will almost always hear a resounding ‘‘yes!’’—the interviewer asks the candidate to provide an example of a time when he demonstrated the competency. The focus is on the candidates giving you an indication of their proficiency in a particular competency by relating a real-world experience.
Typical interviews will sound something like this:
Interviewer: ‘‘I think I mentioned earlier that this is a high-stress position. How do you manage stress?’’
Candidate: ‘‘My last two positions were high stress. I actually do some of my best work under stress. Through experience, I’ve learned how to make stress work for me rather than against me. I think two of the most effective stress management techniques are . . .’’
Based on the answer the candidate provided, what do you really know about this person’s ability to handle stress? Not much— other than the person knows a couple stress management techniques. Whether the person actually uses them or not is up for debate. What is stressful to this candidate? Your guess is as good as mine. It could be that having to work the rest of the day after getting a paper cut is high stress for this candidate.
Using CBBI techniques, the interviewer would, instead, say something like this:
Interviewer: ‘‘Tell me about a time you had to perform a task or project under a lot of stress.’’ Now you are going to find out how the candidate actually handled stress in a real-life situation and what she considers stressful.
When used in conjunction with probing/follow-up questions, this question is going to provide significantly more information for comparing candidates to the competency requirements of the position and the culture of the organization than the answer you would receive to the original question. Assuming, that is, that you ensure that the candidate relates a real-life story rather than respond as if you had asked a situational question.