BEI’s can be one of the most reliable tools in predicting an applicant’s future on-the-job performance.

The theory of behavior event interviewing (BEI) is simple. It considers the best way for an organization to predict an individuals future behavior and performance is to have the individual talk about their past competencies, behavior and performance. There are additional benefits to both the organization and the individual as well.

This interview style is based in the belief that hypothetical responses – which are what most people give and what most interviewers ask for - do not predict how a person will act in a future situation. In fact, most of the time the answers an interviewee provides are what they believe the interviewer wants to hear.

The additional benefits BEI’s provide are the opportunities for HR departments and interview panels to use a standardized assessment method to measure the responses and qualifications of their prospects. Employers need to hire the candidate who has the best skills for the job. Being measurable is increasingly important as it provides consistent, quantifiable proof that the best candidate has been chosen and that the final decision is defendable. The root of a BEI is therefore in the development and the delivery of standardized questions which allows each individual being interviewed to be measured based on their own responses.

What are your responsibilities... if you are interviewing or are part of a panel?

Prior to the interview all of the questions should be designed and (if you are part of a small panel), agreed upon. Each question should have a specific purpose to measure a pre-identified, desirable behavior and competency that is in line with the job deliverables. It should go without saying that BEI questions are open-ended questions. BEI questions should be designed so they evoke responses that are based within the interviewees’ own personal experiences and abilities, and hopefully the interviewee will offer concrete examples of their past achievements.

The interviewers must also review and agree upon the measurement form they will use during the interviews to take notes and measure each interviewee. Once all interviews are conducted, you can the job deliverables . You can design a form based on your offices requirement, however, a sample of a very simple form is as follows.

Name of Interviewee _______________________ Position _________________________

Names of Interviewers 1. _______________________ 2. __________________________

Names of Interviewers 3. _______________________ 4. __________________________

Date _________________________________

During a behavioral interview, and interviewee should be informed their responses should be in relation to their own real life events. I recommend this as much a courtesy as well as a time saver for the interviewers. An interviewer may to need to guide personal responses at first as by nature, many of us commonly downplay our own achievements and offer credit to others or discuss the goals of ‘the team’. I find an interesting thing to watch for when interviewing someone who is new to BEI is to watch how well they implement new instruction.

What are your responsibilities... if you are being interviewed?

In behavior-based interviews, you need to be prepared to give specific examples of when you demonstrated particular behaviors or skills. You should describe in detail a particular event, project, or experience. You should elaborate on how you dealt with the situation, your feelings and observations about your feelings, what the outcome of the project were, and if appropriate what you learned from the experience. If it was a negative experience, describe what you learned from the negative experience. Your responses should also be relevant to your potential employer's industry and market whenever possible.

Focus on actual past behaviors rather than on hypothetical actions or hypothetical behavior. General answers about behavior are not important and will likely detract from your overall BEI measurement score. If you don't have an example, consider the skill they are looking for and suggest a solution, but tie your solution to your behavior in another situation. For example, if you don’t have leadership experiences at work discuss your leadership experience volunteering.

During the interview you want to impress the interviewers by providing brief, to-the-point answers that relate your skills and experience to their needs. Where possible, your answers should blend your knowledge of the organization.

Note that during a BEI interview, candidates that always refer to ‘we’ or ‘they’ or ‘I would’ demonstrate that they either do not listen to instruction, can not adjust to new environments, or even do not have the experience required.

Practice for the interview by addressing several questions most interviewers ask.

As you prepare for your interview, consider situations where you:

  • Demonstrated leadership
  • Mentored someone 
  • Solved a problem 
  • Increased company profits
  • Made a good decision/made a poor decision 
  • Worked through organizational change 
  • Received criticism
  • Met a deadline/missed a deadline
  • Worked as part of a team

What do Behavior Event Interview questions look like?

Behavioral questions usually begin with a statement like: 'Tell me about a time when...' or 'Describe a situation where...'

The following are some examples of behavioral questions

  • Describe a time when you were faced with problems or stresses that tested your coping skills.
  • What did you do?
  • Give an example of a time when you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
  • Describe the system you use to keep track of multiple projects.
  • Tell me about a time when you came up with an innovative solution to a challenge:
    • What was the challenge?
    • What was the outcome?
    • What role did you play?
    • What role did others play?
  • Describe the most creative work-related project you have completed.
  • Tell me about a situation where you worked with an upset customer or co-worker.
  • Describe a difficult problem that you faced:
    • How did you identify the problem?
    • How did you go about trying to solve it? 

Here is an interesting list of 100 Potential Interview Questions from
Click Here

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Copyright © 2015 by Bruce Mayhew.


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