Focused Interviews versus Behavioral Event Interview
Behavioral Event Interview
What are competencies?
They are “the underlying characteristics of an individual which predict outstanding performance in a job, role, organization or culture”
A competency is what outstanding performers do:
Competencies are not:
Why use competencies?
A competency model, if well developed, effectively act as a template for outstanding performance.
Why use structured interviews?
Traditional Interviews versus Focused Interviews
Focused interviews are objective measures of behaviors. Traditional interviews are open to bias and prejudice.
Coding Information from Focused Interviews
You Can Code:
Clearly attributable to Interviewee
Actually occurred (past tense)
Volunteered by interviewee
At time of incident (past tense)
Specific enough (behavior, context, dialogue) to conclude that interviewee demonstrated a competency “Ed was my boss - I told him his ideas were wrong because …”
You Can’t Code:
Plural subject statement
Hypotheticals: present, future tense
Interviewee responses to “leading questions”
Present thoughts, feelings about incident
Vague summaries of discussions and outcomes
Competency Coding - A Summary
You Can Code:
You Can’t Code:
Interviewing for Codable Data
1. Avoid questions that shift the interviewee “up” into abstractions, philosophizing, espoused theories, etc.
2. Avoid leading questions that put words (and competencies!) in interviewee’s mouth - competencies the interviewee might not otherwise express.
3. Avoid the “Royal ‘we’”
4. Avoid espoused values
5. Avoid hypotheticals
Codable Information Exercise
Coding is always done in reference to a specific competency model, but certain general principles of clarity and specificity apply whenever coding occurs. This exercise gives you a chance to check your understanding of these principles.
Read each of the following quotes and decide whether it contains codable material (assuming, for these purposes, that the material pertains to the competency model being studied). Give the reasons for each judgement.
1. "I thought they'd be put off by a three-piece suit and briefcase, so I walked in the plant in shirtsleeves, carrying a clipboard.”
2. "Usually I call my boss first. That way I know for sure whether I can make accommodations on the terms of the agreement.”
3. "Tom and I went into the meeting with some apprehension. The presentation went over well. Everyone acknowledged that it represented clear reasoning and a good plan for reorganizing the department.”
4. "We were able to convince the buyer to try our product. It was new in our line, but the sales manager and I had data from our test market studies that turned out be very persuasive.”
5. "The conversation went round and round until I got them so see that they were really arguing about the exact same problem as last month.”
6. "I don't know how I felt, really.”
Question: "Were you annoyed by the way he treated you? "I guess I was.”
7. Question: "What were you feeling at that point"?
"I guess I was really annoyed that he treated me as if I had no good reason to question him”
8. "I feel as if that meeting should have gone differently. The way things have turned out, my idea would have worked. I think he should have listened to me.
9. "I feel as if that meeting should have gone differently. The way things turned out; my idea would have worked. He should have listened to me. I thought that then, and now I know it's true.”
10. "I just talked about it until he started to agree with the schedule as planned.”
11. "I told him that if we worked together, this would save him time. When he looked at it that way, he agreed with the schedule as planned.”
12. "Once I've got those transcripts, I'll be very careful to code only the specific thoughts, actions, and feelings individuals had during their job experiences.”
Focused Interview Techniques
Features of the Focused Interview Technique
Provides a structured technique for questioning.
Investigative rather than hypothetical; aims to gather objective data about what the candidate did, rather than what he/she might have done, wished he/she had done, etc.
The candidate is put in a position of having to describe actual behavior, thoughts, and actions, rather than attempt to provide assumptions or draw conclusions about what it might take to perform effectively.
Advantages of the Focused Interview Technique
The Focused Interview gets behind the espoused values of what the candidate thinks he or she does, or is important to the job, eliciting information about what he or she does.
The focus is on what the candidate does in relation to factors most important for job success. By asking about critical incidents, the technique gets at those behaviors, motives or abilities that really make the difference.
The Focused Interview uncovers personal attributes that are important for job performance.
The technique maximizes objectivity and lessens the possibility of personal biases.
Disadvantages of the Focused Interview Technique
Interviewers must be trained to achieve a high level of expertise, both in conducting the interview and in understanding what the data yielded suggests concerning individual’s capabilities.
It can take longer than more ‘traditional’ interviews.
The Focused Interview
As an interviewer, think of your role as that of the investigative reporter; gather the FACTS, record the evidence, and stick to objective judgments.
The interview structure is critical to minimizing the inevitable subjective evaluations and bias that creep into many interviews.
Tips to Support Your Stance as Interviewer
Keep the atmosphere relaxed and the candidate at ease by using a conversational rather than interrogative tone.
Maintain appropriate non-verbal behaviors such as eye contact and posture. Be sensitive to physical and cultural differences.
Maintain an objective, non-biased attitude, avoiding snap judgments and first impressions.
Questions in Focused Interview
Characteristics of Effective Questioning
Barriers to Non-Biased Rating
Conducting the Focused Interview
Interview is structured to probe for ‘FACTs’ - evidence (positive and negative) of the critical competencies.
F = FEELING
A = ACTION
C = CONTEXT
T = THINKING
Overview of the Focused Interview Process
Opening (2 minutes)
Focused Questions (8 – 10 minutes per question)
Focused Interview Process
Key Incidents/Focused Questions
Ask the interviewee the first question.
Allow them initially to give you an overview of the whole incident including a very brief summary of the background to the event, giving a timeframe, a start point, an end point, and key milestones/critical moments of their involvement in between: a “roadmap”.
Then go back over the incident and probe for detail - use the "FACT" questions.
When you have exhausted that question, go onto question 2, and so forth.
Give encouragement to the interviewee if they are giving you "good" data.
If you are not getting ‘good’ data, and have probed exhaustively several times, stop the interview, and politely refocus the interviewee, explaining what you need from him/her.
Closing the Interview
Do’s and Don’ts of Obtaining Facts
1. Ask questions that shift the candidate "down" in to what he/she actually did versus "up" into philosophizing, abstractions, espoused beliefs, hypothetical responses, "Royal we"
2. Probe for codable data.
3. Keep your questions brief, specific and in the past tense
1. Ask questions that shift the candidate "up" into abstractions, philosophizing, espoused theories, etc.- present, future, and conditional tenses, especially invite rationalizing or hypothetical responses.
2. Ask leading questions that put words (and competencies!) in candidate's mouth - competencies the candidate might not otherwise express.
3. Let candidate use the "Royal we"
Things to Remember While Interviewing
Try to ...
Try not to ...