Why You Should Implement Behavior-Based Hiring in Your Organization

Posted by

Selecting quality talent is not easy. 

You have only an application, a few interviews, and maybe an assessment to learn everything you need to know about someone. With the limited information you have, you try to determine who’s the top performer and the best fit for your company. 

To make the most of this tricky process, you need good hiring and interviewing strategies. Behavior-based hiring is a great way to predict performance and can be a useful addition to your toolkit. 

What is behavior-based hiring?
Behavior-based hiring evaluates candidates on their past experiences, instead of their resume, qualifications, and skills. Pioneered by industrial psychologists in the 1970’s, behavior-based hiring operates on the idea that past performance is the best predictor of future performance. 

While traditional interviews use hypothetical, cognitive, and personality questions to evaluate a candidate, behavioral interviews analyze candidates’ responses to past experiences to uncover their potential. 

Behavioral questions are designed to elicit a 4-part STAR response -- situation, task, action, result. By discussing past scenarios, candidates’ reactions to them, and the outcome of their actions, you can learn how a candidate is likely to act and perform in your role. 

Common behavioral interview questions include:

  • Can you tell me about a problem you solved in a past role?
  • Can you describe a time that your plans had to change at the last minute?
  • Can you tell me about an unanticipated challenge you faced and how you handled it?
  • Can you describe a time you demonstrated leadership?

The benefits of behavior-based hiring
Behavioral interviews are valuable for two reasons: they elicit detailed responses from the candidate and are based on real evidence. 

Behavioral questions push candidates beyond simple yes/no answers and can pull out a more in-depth view of their past performance and potential. 

While both behavioral and hypothetical interview questions accurately predict job performance, hypotheticals are based on imaginary evidence -- what a candidate supposes they would do in a made-up situation. Meanwhile, behavioral questions elicit real proof, and so can be more valid predictors of future potential.  

And detailed, more accurate responses lead to improved hiring decisions, reduced turnover, and less biased interviews. 

Improved hiring decisions
Unlike other hiring methods, behavior-based hiring reveals a candidate’s actual skills and strengths, as opposed to the skills they claim to have. Its reliance on real scenarios prevents candidates from fabricating stories on the spot. This creates a more accurate view of a candidate’s abilities and empowers you to better evaluate their suitability for the role.

It is also a better assessment of soft-skills, which 60% of hiring managers admit is difficult to evaluate

And if cultural fit is important to you, behavior-based hiring is a great way to determine if a candidate’s work habits and behaviors align with your preferences. 

Reduced turnover
Better hiring decisions can reduce turnover, as employees who are well-suited to their role and more likely to stay.

On the other hand, behavioral assessments can reveal more about the organization administering them, such as by hinting at your values or company culture. This means candidates can get a more realistic view of your organization during their interview, which better prepares them to make an informed decision when you pass out an offer letter. 

Decreased bias
Behavior-based hiring can produce a more objective, bias-free hiring decision. 

Unconscious bias can easily creep into other hiring methods. Behavioral interviews, however, rely on data and so can be evaluated more objectively. 

The use of behavior-based hiring also increases perceptions of fairness among candidates, since all are treated the same, asked the same questions, and evaluated against the same criteria. 

With the potential to boost the success and fairness of your hiring process, you may be wondering: What’s the catch? 

Word of caution
Despite its upsides, behavior-based hiring is not a one-stop solution to all your hiring needs. In fact, it can make interview prep longer and is subjected to the same pitfalls of any other method.

Eliciting longer and more detailed answers, behavioral interviews may take more time than you’re used to. 

They also can require more preparation. And if your hiring team isn’t used to this method, you’ll have to spend time and resources training them. 

On the candidate’s side, there are plenty of resources online that list common behavioral questions and suggest ideal answers. Because of this, candidates can arrive at interviews well-prepared, with answers ready to go.

No single hiring technique has everything you need. For the best results and a more complete view of your candidates, you may want to use a combination of behavioral and hypothetical/situation questions, or whatever best suits your organization’s needs and goals.


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch