We're interviewing to replace a current manager. After the meet and greet part I start by asking the interviewee to answer the following behavioral type questions with real world examples from their past. Tell me about a time when ... type questions. They nod as if they understand. They then proceed to say "I would do this, I could do that". I'm sorry. I'm asking how you handled a poor performance employee. Don't tell me you "would" talk to them about it first. Tell me what you ACTUALLY DID. I can only conclude that you've never been in this situation (unlikely) or totally botched it when you did and don't want to tell me. When I press again to give me a real example they continue with their would of should of story. Ug. So, none of the 3 so far will be getting the job!

The moral of the story is to come prepared to the interview and to answer the question with your own real world experiences. Is that so hard? Apparently so.

wendii's picture

Hi Skinny!

Do you tell them that they are behavioural questions and how to answer them? We send out a pack in advance of the interview telling people how to answer the questions (and yes, people still miss the point) but it does give me a chance to say, did you get the pack, and then I can go over things like I'd like to hear examples from previous experience, make sure you tell us what you did, not what the team did etc.

I find that helps me get what I want, more than if I don't remind them.

I hope that's helpful,


tplummer's picture

I do tell them to use real world experiences in their answer. When they go off track I ask them to please give me an example when this happened and what you did in that instance. One of the mpartially got it by weaving "theory" in with some examples. But mostly speaking, people keep answering "I would" "I could" instead of "I did".

I hadn't thought of sending out some sort of prepackage to the interviewees. What do you put in there? Do you list sample questions? Or more the "rules" for the interview?


rthibode's picture

I use behaviour-based questions. I don't send out anything in advance. When I begin the interview, I tell them in simple terms what's going to happen. It sounds something like this:

"Most of my questions will begin with 'Tell me about a time when' or 'Tell me about a situation in which . . .' When you hear that type of question, I want you to tell me about a specific experience you were involved in. What I [u]don't[/u] want to hear is 'In general this is how I handle those types of situations' or 'Whenever that happens I tend to . . .' I know this sort of question may be new for you, but don't worry. If you start to give me an answer that's too general I'll just remind you that I need a specific example. If you don't have a related experience to draw on or can't think of one, just let me know and we'll move on to one of the back-up questions."

That explanation usually works on its own. For about 20% of candidates, I need to remind them once. For about 5%, no amount of reminding works, and they just can't deal with the format. I don't hire them. I need people who can think on their feet in high-pressure situations.

Good luck!

kklogic's picture

Don't you run the risk of hiring people who are good at interviewing, rather than those who would be good at the job?

rthibode's picture

[quote]Don't you run the risk of hiring people who are good at interviewing, rather than those who would be good at the job?

Yes, to some extent I guess this applies to any type of interview. In my case, the ability to think and speak clearly under pressure is a core job skill. Compared to the pressures they'll face in the job every day, my interviews are a breeze.

wendii's picture


sorry for the delay, I had to get to work in order to look at them again!

The guide has 5 sections:

*What is a competency based interview?
*What is a competency?
*How should you prepare for a competency based interview?
*What sort of questions might you be asked
*A list of our competencies and what they mean.

If you want me to send you a copy, pm me your email, I'm happy to.

I like Rachelle's intro - it's probably more clear than my waffle!


Mark's picture

ACK! Competencies are AWFUL! They are an over-arching set of undifferentiated skills created by an HR consutling firm designed to have the same skill sets run from hiring to promotion and evaluations... and they RARELY work. HR says they're great, and they don't help managers with them, and then expect managers to hire to them without clearly explaining things.

NO, NO, NO!!!!

wendii's picture


Don't disagree with you - but it's mandated, I'm just doing the best I can!


Mark's picture

Ah, ignore it.