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We provide competency-based behavioral interviewing training for interview teams including hiring managers, recruiters, and interviewers. We have been publishing articles for over 40 years to address the myriad of issues encountered in the process of hiring top talent.

Interviewing the Real Candidate

Kennedy's Column

Many of today's job seekers are among the most accomplished and well-prepared in history. They are not only dressed but primed for success, and their resumés­ are equally polished.

The problem interviewers face is getting beyond the flawless facade to the real candidate. One extremely effective way of doing this is to make behavioral events the focus of the interview. As the candidate describes her responses to various situations, she reveals her true competencies, which may or may not match those on that glowing resumé. Our approach, in both Effective Interviewing!® and Effective Interviewing!® eLearning is to gain repeated evidence of a competency to confirm its presence.

We do this by beginning the interview with an in-depth discussion of the applicant's current (or prior) job, including the performance standards for that position. If there are no real standards, further probing at this point can reveal a great deal about an applicant's motivation and reveal any quality standards that she may have initiated.

Once the nature of the job is clear, the interviewer can focus on specific accomplishments. The candidate first is asked to think in terms of superlatives - to identify the accomplishment of which she is most proud. Any subsequent accomplishments will be less substantive.

As the interview progresses, we ask a series of questions to draw out behavioral competencies. Eventually, a portrait emerges that is based on the candidate's description of her own behavior. For instance, we get a very different picture of a student who chooses electrical engineering as a major because she has a driving passion for computers compared to one who selects this major because she hopes it will lead to practical career opportunities.

Once competencies are identified and confirmed, we arrange them in four broad categories; the first, Education/Experience/Knowledge, summarizes what the applicant has done. The three Performance Factors describe the behavioral competencies - all the non-physical skills, abilities, and talents people bring to a job. These are the Intellectual, Interpersonal, and Motivation factors.

If we divide those qualities into the three Performance Factors, it looks something like this:

- Intellectual: Creative, intuitive/ logical, problem-solver, intelligent.
- Interpersonal: Compulsive, risk-taker, self-confident.
- Motivation: Dedicated, persistent, music-lover.

When competencies are seen repeatedly in top performers, they become the standard by which future candidates can be evaluated.