The Guide to Performance Based Interviewing

Often in interviews some very unnecessary questions are asked. Having questions that focus on the individual's job performance and potential can be far more useful.

Interviews that focus solely on performance and potential are called Performance Based Interviews, or PBI's. The biggest benefit to this type of interviewing is that it gives you, the interviewer, a real indication of how the applicant would do at your company. According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, "Research findings show that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. The job-related questions help the interviewer better evaluate applicants fairly and improve the match between people and jobs. This method is also referred to as competency-based or behavioral interviewing."

Requiring In-Depth Answers

PBI questions don't allow for a simple "yes" or "no" response from the applicant. They require the applicant to go in depth about a situation they have faced in the past, so many applicants experience a very different type of interview than what they are used to. Most interviewees are dominated by the interviewer talking, but in a PBI interview, it is the opposite.

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Performance vs. Traditional

Why should you choose a performance based interview over the traditional "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

Performance based interviewing focuses on a candidate's past successes and how they solve problems. This means that as a recruiter, you can see how they flourish and how they deal with issues at work. Through the PBI questions, you can delve into both of these topics to learn more about the candidates past achievements and challenges. So finally, when it comes to make a decision, you have a page of notes that provide your team with a clear direction of how the candidate handles themselves at any work situation.

Sample Questions

Below is a sample question from each of the seven categories at varying levels, from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, provided a list of Sample Questions. Take a look at these questions and think about how they could change your interviewing process.

  1. Tell me about two suggestions you have made to your supervisor in the past year. How did you come up with the ideas? What happened? How do you feel about the way it went?
  2. Describe a situation where you were responsible for getting others to make a change. What role did you play and what actions did you take? What was the outcome? If you had to do it again, would you do anything differently?
  3. Describe the most challenging negotiation in which you were involved. What did you do? What were the results for you? What were the results for the other party?
  4. There are times we work without close supervision or support to get the job done. Tell us about a time when you found yourself in such a situation and how things turned out.
  5. Tell us about a time when you had to analyze information and make a recommendation. What kind of thought process did you go through? What was your reasoning behind the decision?
  6. In your current job, what organizational change have you made or contributed to that you are proud of? How did you go about making the change? What has been the impact of the change?
  7. Give me an example of a time when you used good judgement and decision-making to solve a problem.

Start Interviewing

With some sample questions in your toolbox, a successful PBI is only steps away. Just remember to let the candidate lead the interview and allow them to continue telling you about their experiences. The more information you have, the better informed you will be to make a decision when hiring time comes around.