How to Build Better & More Diverse Teams with Behavioral Interviewing

behaviouralToday’s most successful companies view their teams much differently than those in the past.  Traditionally, a team player was someone who was willing to go along with the company program without ruffling feathers.  In our current innovative and agile world, it’s the diverse teams that are the most prosperous.

One recent study found that teams that were ethnically diverse were 35 percent more likely to achieve better financial results than the national industry median and teams that were gender-diverse achieved 15 times better results.  The problem? As managers and interviewers, we tend to hire people much like ourselves, therefore, less diverse.  The good news is that, by using behavioral interviewing techniques, companies can find the best candidates for a job while also building team diversity.

Behavioral Interviewing to Build Effective Teams

The most effective teams develop something called synergy, meaning that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  If everyone on the team had similar backgrounds, ideas would likely be similar, and innovation would stall.  In the alternative, teams made up of employees from diverse backgrounds bring fresh experiences to the table, often fostering groundbreaking change.

The challenge for companies who want to build effective teams is identifying candidates that will both be a good culture fit and help build team diversity.  Behavioral interviewing is the best solution because it not only identifies core skills in a unique way, but it can also showcase such things as values, style, and personality.

The Behavioral Interviewing Process

Behavioral interview questions give the candidate an opportunity to showcase their core skills, knowledge, and background by telling stories about their past experiences.  Past experience is a better predictor of future performance than the ability to answer canned interview questions.  Get candidates to reveal both their skills and their values by asking a series of behavioral questions like the following:

  • Give an example of a time when you had to manage group process while giving a presentation. Describe the situation and your actions.
  • Have you ever felt under-utilized on a job? Describe how you handled it.
  • Give an example of a time when you motivated employees or co-workers.
  • Describe a past situation where you had a problem with a co-worker and how you dealt with the issue.

Because behavioral interviewing has become so commonplace, many online resources and even business schools are training future employees on how to ace these interviews. Because of this, it’s become more important than ever for interviewers to spontaneously follow-up their questions by asking for further details.  For example, when a candidate answers a question about describing a past problem situation with a co-worker, the interviewer should immediately follow-up with more questions like:

  • What qualities do you think you had to draw on in that circumstance?
  • Describe a valuable lesson that you learned from dealing with a problem co-worker.
  • Would you do things differently in the future and, if so, what would you change?

These follow-up questions can help you gauge several things about a potential employee.  In some instances, you’ll be able to determine if they are being truthful or just making stories up for your benefit. Follow-up questions also give repeated evidence of both an employee’s skills and values, which can help you decide whether or not they’ll be a good fit for your team.

Finding the Right Candidates for Your Team

A well-packed resume isn’t the best indicator of workplace success.  Someone who looks great on paper may have a “lone wolf” attitude or simply not have the right skills or values for your team. When done properly, behavioral interviewing yields higher quality prospects by identifying employees that will both fit with your company’s culture and be key team contributors.

As you go through this hiring process, be sure to do several things.  The first is to create a pool of potential future hires for later contacts.  You might find candidates who fit with your values but not the job in question.  The second is to use a team approach to interviews and hiring so that no one person’s bias can affect major hiring decisions.  With the right questions and the right level of involvement, you can be sure that your candidate choice will be the right fit for your team.

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