Behavioural Interviewing has historically proven to be a highly popular interview strategy. It is based on the premise that a candidate’s future behaviour in a role can be predicted from what they claim they have done in the past. Questions require candidates to provide examples of how they navigated specific work situations. Interview technique is heavily reliant, therefore, on the candidate providing specific examples and a rational explanation of actions and decisions. Of particular importance is the “case stories” standard format: candidates are expected to provide a complete 3-part response to a question via a specific format of S-T-A-R: Situation, Task, Action and Result.
In theory, these “case stories” enable the recruiter to gain a better understanding of the candidate’s character as well as their abilities. One critical assumption is that the content of case stories reveal to recruiters ‘who the candidate really is and what they really do’. Another critical assumption is that recruiters are all equally objective and insightful in understanding, interpreting and judging candidate stories. A third critical assumption is that past behaviour choices will align with future job performance.
But the system has flaws. Candidates can pre-prepare content. Recruiters bring their own biases to the table. Interviewers lack skills and training to evaluate candidates effectively. And the lurking question is still whether past performance predicts future potential. Tracy Quinn, Global TA Lead, Capability & Development from Mondelēz International, has recently undergone the process of revamping their interview framework. Although she was not an initial fan of Behavioural Interviewing, Tracy’s research of current thinking led her to land on a framework where Behavioural Interviewing still plays a part. Tracy started from a point of reviewing their current program, which demonstrated that:
Tracy and the team sought to overhaul the program over a period of several months. They created a user-friendly interview process that also considered the candidate experience, designed on the basis that:
Interviewers also now have greater clarity on the process and interview outcomes through the more clearly defined program as well as access to user-friendly resources, guides and training on-demand to support them in making the hiring decision.
Structured interviews at Mondelēz International now include several components and questioning techniques:
The conversational segment serves to put the candidate at ease, allowing them to answer questions in a relaxed way. The discussion can then develop organically by encouraging the candidate to react to what is shared about the role.
Candidates describe prior achievements and experiences. This aims to give insight into whether candidate has mastered the essential competencies for the open vacancy and helps to identify broad future performance intentions.
This format presents a job- related hypothetical situation which can uncover functional and technical expertise, whilst also demonstrating knowledge and experience.
Mondelēz International recognised that poorly-conducted interviewing was time-consuming and therefore expensive. It’s impossible to predict job performance with complete certainty but by adding structure to the Interview, we can increase the chances of systematically identifying the right candidates for the job.
The new approach is therefore already providing more consistent decisions and an all-round improved experience. The result is better quality employees, leading to improved team and organisation performance, lower turnover and better retention. There’s an increased confidence in hiring decisions and an improved reputation as an employer-employment brand.
Another significant advantage of a more-structured interviewing format is a reduction in hiring bias. Feedback offered to candidates is based solely on their performance, not the interviewer’s possible biases. By using pre-established interview criteria, all candidates are held to the same standards and not judged on how well they respond to a specific interviewer’s style or questions. The structured format also saves time.
Research on the topic showed that pre- created questions, guides and rubrics reduced interview length by an average of 40 minutes. Interviewers also reported that they felt better prepared, thanks to the resources and instructions they received in advance.
A thoughtful and well-organized interview process also leaves candidates confident in the company. Any friction plants fresh doubts in their mind. And if your top candidate walks away with enough doubts, they may hesitate when an offer comes their way. Ultimately, by streamlining and implementing a structured process, Mondelēz International are not only improving the experience for the people directly involved in hiring, but they are also improving it for their entire organization and all candidates, successful or not. That’s a win on every level.
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