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YouTube Impacts Behavioral Interviewing

Kennedy's Column

For many years job seekers have turned to books such as "Answers to the 100 Toughest Interview Questions" or to college placement offices for interview advice. Since then, there's been exponential growth in interview coaching services—from outplacement firms to the Internet and now to YouTube. A quick search of the video sharing website brings up hundreds of consultants offering free advice on "acing the behavioral interview."

Instant access to professional interview coaching on YouTube changes the game for interviewers. For one thing, it means they have to give up the mistaken notion that using behavioral interview techniques gives them a special advantage. In an era where candidates can learn the ins and outs of behavioral interviewing online, interviewers are more often playing catch up than calling the shots. In fact, when interviewers follow a standard behavioral interview script, they are likely to make several errors.

Here's how—the interviewer asks a typical "Give me an example of a time when you demonstrated a particular competency" question. The very nature of this question automatically telegraphs the answer to the candidate, who's not about to deny having the required competency. Also, savvy candidates know that this typical behavioral interviewing technique is going to be used and have had plenty of time to prepare or even make up impressive examples. Finally, interviewers may forge ahead at this point, wrongly assuming that a single answer to a competency probe is proof that the candidate actually possesses the desired trait.

But you can't learn the whole truth about candidates by batting questions and answers back and forth, especially when they play the game better than you. Instead, exploring various or consecutive periods of time in a candidate's past is the best way to discover who that person really is.

We provide interviewers with an Interview Funnel™ model that reveals actual experience and behavior without telegraphing expectations to the candidate. The model allows probing of different time periods in the candidate's life and reveals the presence or absence of repeated patterns of behavior.

The properly trained interviewer will also draw on opportunistic questioning to follow-up or drill down on each answer, rather than merely moving on to the next question. Interviewers who use a highly structured interview script may find today’s candidate knows the script as well.

Another challenge is that probing for a single strength or competency can miss an offsetting and undisclosed weakness. For example, a candidate may be decisive but lacks good judgment. Or he might be able to handle stress or think strategically but isn't collaborative or results-oriented. Interviewers must learn how to uncover the weaknesses as well as strengths in each individual.

Our method of interviewing provides a more personal and conversational way of evaluating candidates than traditional behavioral interviewing. Today's candidates welcome a positive interview where they can tell their own story rather than endure endless grilling on a list of competencies. And they appreciate being asked questions tailored to their own background and experiences instead of following a generic, one-size-fits-all script.

YouTube may have made candidates better informed than ever about traditional behavioral interviewing. But that doesn’t mean interviewers can’t stay one step ahead of the curve by learning and applying advanced techniques.