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Behavioral vs. Traditional Interview: What You Need to Know

Traditional interview focuses on past experiences, while behavioral interview assess future situation handling. Understanding the differences helps prepare for each type and present as an ideal candidate. This article explores the contrasts, advantages, and employer expectations.

Behavioral vs. Traditional Interview: What You Need to Know | Behavioral vs. Traditional Interview: What You Need to Know

Have you ever wondered why some job interviews feel more like a conversation while others feel like an interrogation? The answer lies in the type of interview being conducted.

Job interviews are a crucial part of the hiring process, and employers use different methods to assess candidates. The two most common types of interviews are traditional and behavioral interviews. The traditional interview focuses on past experiences and qualifications, while the behavioral interview focuses on how a candidate would handle certain situations in the future.

Understanding the differences between these two types of interviews can help you better prepare and present yourself as the ideal candidate. In this article, we will explore the differences between traditional and behavioral interviews, their advantages, and what employers are looking for in each type of interview. | Behavioral vs. Traditional Interview: What You Need to Know

What Is a Traditional Job Interview?

A traditional job interview is a formal process where an employer and potential employee meet to discuss the position and the applicant’s suitability for it. During this meeting, both parties exchange information to ensure that the candidate is qualified and can perform at a satisfactory level within the organization.

Employers will typically ask questions about a candidate's background, experience, skills, education, and more to better understand what they can bring to the role. The main goal is to assess whether or not an applicant meets the requirements for the position and, if so, how well they might fit into the organization’s culture.

What Is a Behavioral Job Interview?

Behavioral job interviews have become the norm for many employers, as this type of interview is designed to get past resumes and surface a better understanding of how an individual would perform on the job. This type of interview focuses heavily on how a person handled situations in the past during their work experience. The idea behind this type of interviewing is that our behavior will tend to predict future performance.

Behavioral job interviewing allows the interviewer to dig into who a person is and what they offer in managing a workforce. Using yes or no questions won’t do much in predicting how one might react going forward; instead, asking how one used problem-solving skills or creative solutions within their current role can truly give insight into future success.

Employers need to understand this style and consider using it when recruiting for certain positions; however, it can also benefit applicants when providing specific answers because it allows them to showcase their knowledge and experience directly relating to the position they are applying for.

Behavioral vs. Traditional Interviews

Traditional interviews rely on a series of questions to uncover useful information about a candidate’s qualifications, abilities, and experiences. In traditional interviews, the interviewer will typically ask candidates how they have handled similar situations— their strengths and weaknesses, what motivates them, and why they are suited for a particular role. The answers they receive can ultimately help decide whether or not the candidate is suitable for the job.

Behavioral interviewing is an approach employed by many employers when looking to find suitable talent for a job. Instead of only asking about past experiences, behavioral interviews take it one step further by asking hypothetical questions related to current or future roles and assessing key competencies central to the role being filled.

Candidates in behavioral interviews are evaluated based on their demonstrated skills rather than solely on their responses to interview-related questions. This type of interview helps employers to assess more accurately the hard and soft skills associated with potential employees and gives live examples of how they think through problems on an ongoing basis rather than simply relying on past experiences alone.

Behavioral interviewing has gained more and more attention in today’s competitive job market because of its predictive success rate. Behavioral interviews are much more likely to result in successful hires than traditional interviews. Traditional interview questions tend to be formulaic and somewhat repetitive, lacking the depth necessary for employers to develop a proper understanding of the candidate.

This results in unpredictable outcomes as these questions don’t provide much substantial information about an individual beyond what can be garnered from their background search. In comparison, behavioral-based interviewing is around 45% more effective with its predictability factor due largely in part to the STAR (Situation, Task, Actions, and Results) method used to evaluate a person's past experiences relevant to the job description.

During this type of interview, employers can get an authentic glimpse into how someone acts in different environments and if they’d be a reliable addition or not. The data gathered during this type of interviewing style is invaluable when assessing potential candidates for any role.

Why do Employers Ask Behavioral Interview Questions?

Behavioral interview questions are an effective way for employers to learn about a job candidate's demeanor and how they would work in the company environment. By asking about previous professional experiences, employers can get an idea of how candidates reacted to different working scenarios and how they may behave in their new job.

For example, if a job seeker has had experience leading projects at their last company, it could be beneficial to ask them what successful approaches they took or what challenges they overcame. From this information, employers can make an informed decision as to whether the person is a good fit for the role.

Behavioral interview questions can highlight important areas of a candidate’s life, such as resiliency or problem-solving skills. Employers must inquire into these experiences to better understand the individual’s potential. This type of questioning helps hiring managers assess performance trends from past workplace dynamics that could positively or negatively impact future endeavors.

How to Prepare for a Behavioral Interview?

Preparing for a behavioral interview can be a daunting task. It is important to not only think of examples of work experiences but also to recall situations where you may have exhibited desirable behaviors that relate to the job. Understanding how past experiences demonstrate qualities or insights desired by an employer will help you shine in an interview.

When preparing for a behavioral interview, recalling recent situations that reflect favorably on your abilities such as coursework, work experience, leadership, teamwork, initiative, planning, and customer service is essential. Think of stories with enough detail to give an interviewer meaningful information about how you react and operate in similar settings.

Your stories should be self-contained with a beginning, middle and end; include the task at hand and actions you took; and describe how the situation was resolved or ended up if not successful. It is also important, to be honest in these stories and remain truthful even during periods of uncertainty or failure. Exaggeration should also be avoided as employers try to get an accurate picture of your competencies based on these answers.

What is the STAR Method of Conducting a Behavioral Interview?

The STAR method of conducting a behavioral interview is an effective and widely-used way to structure a candidate's response to interview questions. This helps the interviewer gauge how well the candidate can handle challenging job-related situations based on their own experiences. This strategy focuses on asking about four distinct components: Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

In the Situation component, the interviewer will set the context for a story which will form the base for the rest of the interview. They will ask open-ended questions such as “Tell me about a time when you successfully dealt with a difficult customer” or “What have you done in your current job that demonstrates excellent problem-solving?”.

During this stage, they aim to uncover past experiences that would give them insight into how the candidate might respond given similar circumstances in their new role. Upon understanding the situation in their anecdote, the interviewer then moves on to probing further by inquiring about tasks they completed to move toward action and, ultimately, results achieved from that particular situation.

Benefits of Behavioral-Based Interview

Behavioral-based interviews offer a great way to predict if an employee is suitable for a role with an organization. This type of interview method differs from traditional methods, allowing employers to assess the candidate’s skills more objectively and efficiently by asking questions based on past experiences. Furthermore, the employer can better understand how the candidate would react in certain situations. This gives employers an edge by providing a deeper insight into who they are hiring and how applicable their experience is in practice.

Contrasting this with traditional interviews, candidates are provided with questions about hypothetical scenarios or straightforward questions about their strengths, which can be used as an opportunity to deceive. By applying the behavioral-based approach, employers have a much greater potential of zeroing in on top talent from their selection pool. That being said, it’s advantageous for any job seeker to be well prepared for such types of interviews and become familiar with the specific criteria required for success.

Sample Behavioral Interview Questions with Answers :

Behavioral interview questions are designed to help employers gain insight into a candidate's thought processes and their capacity to problem solve. This type of questioning allows companies to assess qualities like an employee's ability to think on their feet, adaptability, and creative problem-solving skills.

An example of a behavioral interview question is "Give an example of an occasion when you used logic to solve a problem." When posed with this question, the interviewer wants to hear about how the candidate specifically overcame a difficult reasoning challenge through clear reasoning, cost-benefit analysis, or process optimization.

Another behavioral question might be "Describe an unpopular decision you made and how you handled implementing it." In answering this, the candidate should provide tangible examples of a dilemma they had to make in the past that had far-reaching consequences—positive or negative—and why they selected those particular actions.

They should also explain how they implemented their decision despite its unpopularity. Candidates should demonstrate an understanding that people did not always agree with them but still explain how they could execute their chosen approach with objectivity and fairness. If possible, candidates can quantify their decisions' effect on any particular outcome as well.

Some common types of behavioral interview questions you may be asked could be:
“Give me an example of a time when…” or “Describe a time when...” These types of questions often ask about the candidate's working relationships to demonstrate their understanding of effective interpersonal communication. They also prompt the interviewer to think through how they plan to handle similar tasks or solve common problems on the job if hired.

Other topics are based upon the job description, such as “Tell me about a time you have successfully managed a project from beginning to end" or "How did you handle a difficult customer?” These questions allow employers to understand how well applicants can manage challenges associated with specific roles.

Finally, “What has been your biggest career success?” type questions allow for retrospective reflection upon previous job responsibilities and help employers determine if there is a fit between the candidate

Examples of behavioral interview questions :

Here are a few examples of questions that may be used as benchmarks for behavioral interviewing:

  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work and how you fixed it;
  • Can you describe a time when you had to manage a challenging situation in the workplace?;
  • How do you typically work and stay calm under pressure?;
  • Describe an instance where your initiative led to an improvement in operations;
  • What have been some of your most successful problem-solving tactics?;
  • Give me an example of how you have gone above and beyond in a work project;
  • Explain how your analytical skills have helped solve problems in your current or past jobs;
  • Share an example of when you had to influence someone else’s opinion or decision at work;
  • Describe a situation where deadlines were tight but were met due to your efforts;
  • And tell me about when customer feedback affected your approach to a task.

With these examples, employers can understand how well a candidate will perform in certain roles and what techniques they are likely to utilize.

The Best Way To Prepare For an Interview

When it comes to preparing for any type of job interview, the best way to do so is to anticipate what type of questions may be asked and come up with thoughtful answers. Preparing ahead of time using traditional interview questions as a foundation will help you develop solid responses that demonstrate your potential and skillset. For instance, consider some common questions related to your experience, education, and overall experiences in the field you’re interviewing for.

If you expect a behavioral-based interview focusing on how you handled situations or challenges in the workplace, take some time to review and hone in on those unique stories or scenarios. This will require extra preparation but can be very effective when answering the questions. Use these scenarios as examples of how you handled unexpected circumstances during previous jobs or projects. This will help frame your responses during the interview.

Behavioral interviews are becoming increasingly popular among employers as a way to get to know job applicants more intimately. By asking questions about past experiences, employers can better understand an applicant's aptitude for the role and how they may react in certain situations.

At the same time, it is important to remain professional during the interview process. Employers will be looking for candidates who demonstrate strong communication skills, can provide constructive feedback, and stay professional at all times. With the right preparation, applicants can demonstrate their ability to succeed in the role and give potential employers confidence.