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  • Writer's pictureAnoop Rajan

Interview Techniques: Behavioral vs. Situational Interviewing

Behavioral and situational interviewing are two common techniques used in the hiring process to assess a candidate's suitability for a job. Both methods aim to predict a candidate's future job performance based on their past behavior and responses to hypothetical scenarios. However, they differ in their approach and focus. Let's explore each technique:

  1. Behavioral Interviewing: Behavioral interviewing is based on the idea that past behavior is a good indicator of future behavior. In this approach, candidates are asked to provide specific examples from their past experiences that demonstrate relevant skills, competencies, and behaviors required for the job. Interviewers typically use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to structure the conversation. The candidate describes a Situation or Task, the Actions they took, and the Results or outcomes of their actions. Pros:

    • Provides concrete examples of a candidate's abilities.

    • Focuses on real-life situations, showcasing a candidate's practical skills.

    • Allows interviewers to assess how a candidate has handled similar situations in the past.

Cons:

  • Candidates may prepare rehearsed answers.

  • Limited to a candidate's past experiences, which might not always align perfectly with the current role's requirements.


  1. Situational Interviewing: Situational interviewing assesses how candidates would respond to hypothetical situations they might encounter on the job. Interviewers present candidates with scenarios relevant to the role and ask how they would approach or handle those situations. The goal is to evaluate a candidate's problem-solving skills, decision-making abilities, and their alignment with the company's values and expectations. Pros:

    • Tests a candidate's ability to think on their feet and make decisions in unfamiliar situations.

    • Provides insights into a candidate's thought process and problem-solving approach.

    • Focuses on assessing cultural fit and alignment with the company's values.

Cons:

  • Responses may not accurately reflect a candidate's actual behavior in real-life situations.

  • Candidates might provide answers they believe the interviewer wants to hear.


When choosing between behavioral and situational interviewing, consider the nature of the job, the skills required, and your organization's culture. Behavioral interviewing is effective for roles that require specific skills and experiences, while situational interviewing is valuable for assessing problem-solving abilities, adaptability, and alignment with company values.

It's worth noting that many interviews use a combination of both techniques to gain a comprehensive understanding of a candidate's capabilities and fit for the role. Additionally, creating a structured interview process, training interviewers, and using standardized evaluation criteria can enhance the effectiveness of either approach.

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