How Do You Screen Job Applicants During Interviews?

Ask behavioral questions to screen job applicants during your interviews.

Most interviews revolve around these three categories:

  1. Standard questions: “Where do you see yourself in 5 years”, “What made you apply for us”, etc.
  2. “Random question of the day”: “If you were an animal, which one would it be?”, “What’s your favorite US state?”
  3. Situational questions: “How would you conduct a customer survey”, “What steps do you take before you commit a code change?”

The first group of questions is fine — at least a few of them.

The second category doesn’t make sense. Some psychologists have decided that there is a certain correlation to preferences but this one is completely subjective.

Situational questions are great in theory. But guess what: most people “know” how to behave in a given context. That doesn’t necessarily mean they will execute properly in practice.

Every organization outlines a set of processes, internal procedures, workflows. People often neglect many of them. They skip a step or two.

And sometimes, that makes sense. It’s better to omit a step in a given scenario if the processes are outdated and don’t work in practice anymore.

As a final note: It’s easy to prepare for each category. It takes a couple of weeks to go over 500 common questions and ace an interview with the “right” answer.

Behavioral questions revolve around real scenarios.

My favorite read on this topic is Amazon.com: High-Impact Interview Questions: 701 Behavior-Based Questions to Find the Right Person for Every Job eBook: Victoria Hoevemeyer: Kindle Store which covers a lot more than the 701 questions. It helps you define a set of competencies per role or department, and scale from there.

But my favorite aspect of behavioral questions is looking for traits that are not obvious.

“How did you handle the most annoying customer ever? Tell me about them.”

On the surface, the question asks about the right process you employ during customer service. Behind the scenes, the interviewer gauges the most intense situations you’ve dealt with at work, and compares them with the day-to-day on the job.

Plus, faking stories gets exponentially more complicated with the right follow-up questions. You’ll either hear what you were interested in or catch someone red-handed and realize immediately that they would keep lying if you hire them.
For more tips on hiring, visit our Recruitment guide.