Raising the Bar: From Behavioral to Results Based Interviewing

PACE has been a big fan of behaviorally based interviewing models since our founding in 1975. We’ve successfully used behaviorally based techniques to help our clients pin point the right candidate profiles, and then find, hire and select high performance employees.

We are proud of how effectively we have been able to apply behaviorally based candidate vetting techniques in an industry that has historically been more focused on sourcing candidates for their clients, not necessarily helping their clients make better hiring decisions.

We’ve recently started to re-label some of our service processes and now use the term RESULTS FOCUSED to describe both a hiring and an interview process that we believe is a step up from traditional behavioral interviewing and hiring models. It is an interviewing process that requires both the hiring manager and their recruiter to…

1) Thoroughly understand the JOB before starting the recruit

2) Define hiring success based on the RESULTS the employee is EXPECTED to achieve

3) Explore the CONTEXT in which that job will be performed, identifying any factors in the work environment that might impact how a new employee will perform once in their new work environment

4) Conduct hiring interviews that avoid interview bias by focusing on the facts – the RESULTS a candidate has achieved elsewhere that are directly relevant to the RESULTS they are expected to achieve post hire.

Types of Interviews!

A GET TO KNOW YOU interview is an unstructured interview (without preplanned interview questions) designed to uncover who a candidate IS or what the HAVE (skills, personality, work experience etc.) to the exclusion of exploring what they have DONE with what they HAVE. Strangely enough this is still the type of interview conducted by most hiring managers and is the interviewing model most often linked to hiring mistakes.

A BEHAVIORAL interview is a structured interview that uses preplanned questions about how a job candidate has performed in the past as a way to make predictions about how they will perform in the future.   

A RESULTS FOCUSED interview is a structured interview built around questions about a candidate’s past ACHIEVEMENTS that are directly RELEVANT to the ACHIEVEMENTS or RESULTS they will be asked to achieve post hire.

The differences between the first model and the next two models are pretty dramatic. The similarities between the last two models often mask their important differences.  

What BEHAVIORAL and RESULTS FOCUSED interviewing models have in common!  

Both are built on the premise that what a candidate has done in the past is the best predictor of what they will do in the future. That focus on predicting future behavior based on past behavior is the foundational premise of both interviewing models. It is also what sets them apart from the traditional “get to know you” interviewing models that focus on uncovering who a candidate is (their intrinsic attributes or traits) rather than what they have actually done.     

Both rely on questions that get the candidate to describe their own behavior – what they have DONE in the past. The type of questions used in a RESULTS FOCUSED interview are almost always BEHAVIORALLY BASED.      

Both rely on structured (vs. unstructured) methods of making hiring decisions. Both are based on the the notion that the interview is a business process that, depending on how its designed, impacts who is and is not hired. Both interview processes underscore the importance of asking all candidates the same questions – both to easily identify differences in candidates and to ensure that each candidate has the same opportunity to showcase their qualifications for hire.   

Both require interviewers to “dig deep” into a candidate’s behavior, assessing the details of their previous performance to understand what really happened – the whats? whens? whys? Both interview models emphasize the importance on peeling back the onion on what the candidate self reports.       

Both are considered improvements over the casually designed and executed “get to know you” interview that focuses on finding out who the candidate is, rather than gathering up evidence that can be used to predict what they are likely TO DO.

Both interview models are versatile enough to be used in a variety of scenarios – to SCREEN and RANK candidates for short listing OR to do a more detailed EVALUATION of candidates already on a short list. Both models take into account the intrinsic differences between a SCREENING and an EVALUATION interview – their different goals and formats.  

Both interview models assume that interview bias is at the root of many hiring mistakes and concede that most attempts to eliminate these biases are misguided. Both interview models have been created to mitigate the impact of interview bias on the hiring decision, prioritizing the need to gather up evidence that can be used to predict behavior post hire.      

Question for PACE

What’s different? 

The difference between all interviewing models lies in their different levels of structure, specificity, and focus.

Relevant Achievements. Specific Results 

The RESULTS FOCUSED interview prioritizes questions directly RELEVANT to the SPECIFIC RESULTS the candidate is asked to deliver post hire. At PACE, we encourage clients to get really clear on what they expect a successful hire to achieve in their first 90 days on the job. Ideally that’s a 30-60-90 day post hire performance plan. For higher level roles, with broader scopes of responsibility etc., performance plans can be expanded to cover a full year of EXPECTED RESULTS post hire.

Let’s say we’ve concluded that for an employee to be good in their role, they need to be a good team player.

  • An interviewer using the “get to know you” interviewing model might ask the candidate to “tell me about yourself” and look for signs that they consider themselves to be a team player.
  • An interviewer using the typical behavioral interview model would be more specific – “Give me an example of a job you’ve had where teamwork was important.  Describe what you did to fit in with the team.”
  • An interviewer using the RESULTS FOCUSED interviewing model asks questions that are much more specific – “We have 4 other players on the team you will be joining. All have been in their current roles 4 years or longer.  They are very good at working with each other, keeping each other informed on anything they are doing that might have impact on someone else’s workload. They tend to approach solving problems in team settings rather than individually, sometimes pulling individual team members away from their personal work responsibilities. Describe a job you’ve had where that type of teamwork was expected of you. (Did you find that type of environment effective for your work style? Why?  What were its challenges for you?)

Understanding the Job

According to Lou Adler, a well known consultant in the candidate selection space, hiring managers and recruiters who conduct interviews without knowing what RESULTS the candidate will be expected to deliver post hire, are a significant source of many hiring mistakes. To conduct a RESULTS BASED interview you need an accurate and detailed understanding of the JOB which includes a information about what will be EXPECTED of an employee once hired. A BEHAVIORAL interview, on the other hand, can be conducted even if the EXPECTATIONS for RESULTS have not been clearly spelled out. You only need to know the HARD and SOFT SKILLS that will be used on the job.    

  • An interviewer using the “get to know you” interview model will likely just take a quick look at a job description, review a resume and conduct an interview to assess whether or not the candidate has the skills, experience, or educational achievements needed.
  • An interviewer using behavioral interview techniques will have reviewed a traditional job description but will have created a shorter list of critical hard or soft skills a candidate must have to be considered the “right fit” for the job. They will create a series of behaviorally based questions designed to uncover examples of where these skills or traits have been used in previous jobs. 
  • An interviewer using the RESULTS FOCUSED interview models will have done all the homework necessary to really know the JOB which may or may not have been captured in the job description.  They will have talked to previous employees, the hiring manager, etc. to make sure they understand the RESULTS the employee has to achieve to be considered the right hire. They will have a good understanding of the challenges and opportunities that are part of the CONTEXT in which the employee will be working. They will construct a series of interview questions focused on uncovering examples in an candidate’s background where they have had to achieve similar results and/or dealt with similar challenges or opportunities.

Considering Context

RESULTS FOCUSED interviewers also need a clear understanding of the CONTEXT in which the job will be performed so they can ask questions about a candidate’s experience with a similar CONTEXT. BEHAVIORAL interviewers may or may not have information about CONTEXT depending on how much emphasis is placed on taking a holistic approach to hiring. For the RESULTS FOCUSED interview, nothing that potentially impacts an employee’s ability to deliver RESULTS is off limits in their interview process.    

  • An interviewer using the “get to know you” interview model doesn’t often inquire about the CONTEXT in which the job is to be performed or how that context might impact how the employee is likely to behave post hire  
  • An interviewer using behavioral techniques may or may not pay attention to context, may or may not add interview questions to assess a candidate’s ability to navigate a unique set of consequences
  • An interviewer using a RESULTS FOCUSED interview models pays close attention to CONTEXT and will ask candidate questions about their experience working in the same or similar contexts.
  • Ex.  The team you will be joining is going thru a lot of changes in the specifics of how they do their work. They have a new director who wants things done differently. Describe any experience you’ve had working on a team being asked to make changes in how they do their work?”   

The Role of Hypothetical “What Would You Do?” Questions? 

Most BEHAVIORAL interviewers will avoid asking questions designed to elicit speculative responses – even inquiries about how a candidate might approach achieving the required RESULTS post hire. A RESULTS FOCUSED interviewer purposefully asks candidates how they might approach getting RESULTS in a particular CONTEXT post hire. These questions provide opportunity to get a candidate engaged in the job and its challenges. They also reveal important differences in candidates that show up how they are likely to apply their skills and talents in an employer’s unique work environment.            

  •  An interviewer using the “get to know you” interview model may or may not ask a candidate a “what would you do” question, depending on how the interview goes.
  • An interviewer using a behavioral interview model is not likely to ask a “what would you do” question, believing it too speculative to be of value, which means candidates without specific relevant experience would be systematically eliminated.
  • An interviewer using a RESULTS FOCUSED interview models will always ask ”what you do” “how would you approach” questions. Ex. We’ve been having a challenge with one of the folks on the team you’re going to be leading buying into the changes we are making in how we triage customer issues.  You’ve described how you lead the teams you’ve been on in the past, but how would you approach getting that particular employee on board with these changes?”

Other Benefits of a RESULTS FOCUSED hiring interview?

There are many direct and some indirect benefits from using a RESULTS FOCUSED interview model.

  • It simplifies the interviewing process, asking questions that are designed to gather up information about what a candidate has achieved in the past and how those achievements align with the results they will be expected to achieve post hire
  • When employees are interviewed and eventually hired for what they have done, not who they are, a CULTURE of doing gets affirmed over time.
  • It escapes the systemic impact of interviewer bias. By focusing the interview on gathering up the facts relevant to the hiring decision, there is little opportunity for interviewer bias to have impact.

How can PACE help?

If you or your team would like to have more information on the how tos of RESULTS FOCUSED hiring models, reach out to our Partner Services and Solutions team for assistance. If you’d like some inhouse training, we can put you in contact with some of the training resources we’ve used internally to help us develop this model. To learn more give us a call at 425-637-3312 or by e mail at partnerservices@pacestaffing.com.


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Diclosures, Recognitions, and Thank Yous.....

The PACE team would like to acknowledge the influence and inspiration of Lou Adler, CEO and founder of an international consulting and training company, whose teachings and writings played such a key role in the development of our RESULTS FOCUSED hiring model. Although we have not been formal students of his program, throughout our career in recruiting and staffing we have followed Mr. Adler’s blogs on LinkedIn, read his books including Hire with your Head published in 2021, and have incorporated some of the descriptors he has used to explain the underlying concepts of his hiring model, into our own.

Our RESULTS FOCUSED hiring process has evolved from our own experience in hiring but at critical points has been influenced by Mr. Adler’s presentations and writings. We will be forever grateful for his ability to so articulately describe and explain the what’s and whys of evidence based hiring process which are the principles underlying the hiring process Mr. Adler has created and our own hiring process. The influence he has had on the hiring community across the globe has made it so much easier for us to move forward with the confidence that our own insights on hiring have universal legs to stand upon.

To learn more about the training  Mr. Adler’s company, Performance-based Hiring Learning Systems, might be able to provide to your hiring managers,  we encourage you to contact his team at info@louadlergroup.com or call them directly at 949.612.6300

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