03/01/2017 11:01 EST | Updated 03/02/2018 00:12 EST

3 Behavioural Interview Questions Not Often Asked

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These three interview questions are often not asked, but I find very helpful to identify the best candidate to hire.

Let's back up a second. Interviews offer a micro-opportunity for you -- an employer -- to assess an applicants abilities and compatibility with the work, the organizational culture and the clients. During the interview you are looking to hire a person who will:

A: Go above and beyond, be creative, dependable and respected by co-workers/clients.

B: Manage their responsibilities well, be respected by co-workers/clients.

C/D: Nobody wants to hire a C or D option, so I won't even talk about the employee that just gets by.

A or B would be great... but really, you want to hire the A employee every time - and you want them to stay for more than two years.

These examples follow the Behavioural Event Interview (BEI). What is a behavioural interview question? A BEI is a structured interview usually used when selecting employees. It gathers information about the history of an applicant as a means of predicting future performance. A Behavioural Event Interview asks for examples of a candidates past actions / behaviours... not answers to hypothetical situations.

A BEI can easily have 10 to 15 prepared interview questions that the interviewer asks every candidate. The following are three interview questions I find very helpful to find A-class candidates.

Behavioural Event Interview (BEI) Questions

1. Tell me about a time when you have been promoted or given more responsibility?

A-class employees are hard workers who look for opportunities to grow and do great work. This often leads to being promoted -- or at least frequently being given more responsibility and greater challenges.

Sub-Questions Level II:

  1. Why did your supervisors / leaders give you this promotion / more responsibility?
  2. How did you feel about being given this promotion / more responsibility?

2. Share a large project or challenge you have led.

Of the three questions listed in this post this is the most common... and yet, not asked as frequently as you might think.

A-class employees often find themselves running large or important projects; even introverted A-class employees. Why? Because they are creative, collaborative, dependable and have a high work-quality ethic.

Sub-Questions Level II:

  1. Please share the key deliverables and what you did to achieve them.
  2. Discuss any crisis that came along and what you did to correct it.
  3. Share experiences you had with delegating tasks and/or collaboration. With this question you are looking to explore leadership abilities/qualities in forming, leading and mentoring teams.
  4. What did you do to create something new? Here you are looking for them to demonstrate that they are a thought leaders... by either coming up with a new idea/process... or repurposing something that exists into a new format/purpose (like taking blog posts and creating a webinar from them for team training).

3. Are you committed to continual learning?

A-class employees love learning -- especially Millennials; they want to gain experience. In addition, most exceptional employees also want to meet new people to add to their professional network. Learning can be books they read, courses they took or Professional Development they participated in... or a combination.

Sub-Questions Level II:

  1. How do you learn best? What is your learning style?
  2. Describe something that pushed your limits -- engaged you to learn in your previous role.


Interview questions are critically important and often not given the forethought they deserve.

It's important employers look beyond a list of credentials and education and discover how candidates will act in the future by explaining what they've done in the past. Look for how they think, their personal and professional values and how they communicate.

Encourage candidates to share stories about their past experiences -- both work experiences and perhaps (especially for Millennials), experiences they've had elsewhere (volunteering, education, vacation etc). Look for their expressed behaviour in situations -- because if they can tell you how they handled a stressful situation in the past, it's a very good indicator that they will handle stressful situations in a similar way in the future.

Happy communicating, hiring, mentoring, motivating... and BEI training.

Click here to learn more about Bruce Mayhew Consulting, Executive Coach and Corporate Trainer / Speaker.

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