Traditional Behavioural Interviews Are Old School and Boring

Who loves conducting a traditional behavioural interview, with the ol’ stiff ice breaker question to start with followed by 4-5 behavioural questions to really put the candidate under the pump and have them wracking their brains to try and accurately remember something they did 3 years ago? (One time I was on the receiving end of 6 behavioural questions … brutal).

Yeeeeeah behavioural interviews are scary for candidates, boring for the interviewer and they suck.

Actually … I take that back. SOMETIMES a traditional behavioural interview like that does have it’s place (maybe as part of a multi assessment process), and I do still use that method myself. However my favourite type of candidate assessments are ones that properly determine a candidate’s potential rather than focusing on what they’ve done in the past, give the candidate an insight into the business and the role they’ll be doing … AND (dare I say) are FUN! That’s right, assessments can be fun and insightful. Who woulda thunk it?

I remember once I interviewed for a role, and instead of an interview I was asked to present my plan for my ‘First 90 Days’ in the role. I had … the best time. I HATE being subjected to behavioural interviews. I talk way too much, I go off track, and I get a red rash on my neck and arms. The thing that freaks me out the most is being under pressure and trying to accurately remember events from the past … I suck at it! When I get anxious my brain goes blank, and I naturally have a really bad memory – I’m all about living in the now, babyyyyyyy!

So being asked to present on my First 90 Days was ideal for me. I like presenting, I’m passionate about what I do, and I had HEAPS of ideas I wanted to share on how I’d approach the role. So I didn’t even think about getting nervous, because I was too busy talking about my ideas and didn’t have to rely on my goldfish memory. When I left that meeting I felt super confident, and if I hadn’t got the role (I did get it though – winning) I wouldn’t have been devastated because I felt I’d given it my absolute best shot. All round, a great “interview” experience.

A little while ago I was recruiting a role for a TA team I was leading, and I had butt loads of applications. Butt LOADS! I didn’t want to base my choice on “years of experience”, because I was more interested in how someone’s brain works and their values. So I asked them to answer a few application questions upon applying, then I used that to shortlist to around 25 peeps. Rather than do 25 phone screens that would take 1 million years, I invited them to complete a short written activity/plan on a page type thing that was a realistic insight into something they’d be doing in the role – but I designed the activity so it wasn’t necessary to have previous recruitment experience. I received around 15 responses, and it gave me a really interesting insight into how their brains worked and what their priorities were. It also showcased who actually put in some effort, who didn’t and who didn’t bother responding at all. 

It got me thinking, the snoop that I am – what are other TA peeps doing that’s a bit outside the proverbial “box”?

Chris Wong, TA Lead, Asaleo Care:

“I remember back when I was recruiting in academia we had a lecturer position in Computer Science and needless to say… these were incredibly smart and talented individuals – but the common feedback students have of their lecturers is their ability to communicate, present, engage and teach.”

“So we asked applicants to submit a 10-15 minute video submission on a 1st year unit. It could be any unit of their choice (as they all have different areas of focused studies). The brief asked them to consider their audience as 1st year students, potentially students that took on the unit as an elective. The content they would cover and how they would engage with the students. Because it was such an IT/Technical field, we also got applicants to submit the video via a blind link on YouTube. Which was considered an easy task for this audience.”

Priya Bhana, Director of People & Culture, PaperKite (Wellington, NZ):

“We’ve designed a recruitment process that is involved, intentionally. From an initial coffee chat, a potential PaperKiter moves through a culture-add interview, a technical challenge, and then gets to quiz a Senior Leadership team member about the strategic direction for PaperKite all before we decide who will be joining our team. It’s just as important that they choose us. At every stage we are listening for value alignment and ensuring that the candidate meets different people from across the business. We then bring everyone involved in the interview process together to have a Hiring Hui where we discuss who will be invited to join our team.”

‘We’ve adapted the types of interview questions over the years to seek value alignment and to really allow the candidate to share of themselves with us. For example, we ask, ‘Tell us about something you’ve recently taught yourself’ and we like when candidates show curiosity or a quest for life-long learning especially if it’s nothing to do with the skill-set they’re there for.”

“The other two questions we’ve taken to asking lately are: When you were a kid, were you more inclined to explore the world through physical activities (like climbing trees, playing sports) or through mental activities (like reading or playing Chess)? This one can show us their level of risk-taking, any lessons learned and the way they answer the question can take them out of an interview setting, back to their childhood and we get to see a different side to candidates.”

“Another question that heralds really interesting responses is, ‘Do you ever find yourself down a rabbit-hole? Tell us about something that has piqued your interest recently?’. We really find this question allows the potential PaperKite to show us how they think and the kinds of things they think about. We’ve all experienced the thing where you look up something and then find yourself in a completely different space in time, and corner of the Internet!”

If you’re a Talent person reading this – we’d love to know some things you’ve done to assess a candidate that aren’t just a plain ol’ interview!! Or maybe it is an interview, but with a twist like the way Priya and her team at PaperKite do their thing.

If you happen to be a current or future candidate reading this – what assessment methods do you think would get the best out of you, and truly showcase your skills?

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