Ever wonder why that promising candidate you hired as office manager or sales rep crashed and burned six months later?

It probably could have been predicted. Under similar circumstances, past behavior often predicts future behavior because people create patterns and tend to repeat them.

You can hire with more assurance by using behavior-based interviewing techniques, which result in 80% predictive accuracy, according to one research study. Certain questions can eliminate misunderstandings and prevent personal bias from affecting hiring decisions.

How It Works Behavior-based questions are open-ended and designed to give you the information you need to ensure the person you hire will succeed. The idea is to ask about key job behaviors and skills, then probe deeper to get insight into how the candidate actually acted in the past.

Good questions to ask include:

  • Tell me about a situation where you had to communicate with a very difficult customer.
  • Describe a time when you had a real challenge in satisfying a customer's needs.
  • Tell me about a time when you had a very difficult project to work on by yourself, or when you had to work as part of a team on a difficult project.
  • Give me an example of a situation where you had to make a big change in order to achieve a goal or finish a task.

Follow-Up Question

Next, probe further to learn more. For example, ask: “Can you take me through the process step by step?” Or, “Why did you do it that way?”

Avoid questions that elicit an opinion response, a theoretical answer, or a vague statement. When you get feelings, theories, or incomplete information, probe further. Ask for examples and specifics. Candidates who avoid being specific raise a red flag. Also, beware candidates who find fault or blame in their past jobs or are overly negative.

—Bob Losyk is a Greensboro, N.C.–based Certified Speaking Professional, author, and consultant. This article is excerpted from his book, Managing a Changing Workforce: Achieving Outstanding Service With Today's Employees. Contact www.boblosyk.com or 800.995.0344.