Are Behavioral Interviews the Worst?

John Krautzel
Posted by in Career Advice

Behavioral interviews focus on what you would do in certain situations as your hiring manager tries to ascertain if your personality is a perfect fit for the job at hand. This interviewing style came about in the 1980s as companies sought new ways to find people who worked well in various situations. In the 21st century, this style of interviewing is no longer relevant according to HR expert Liz Ryan.

For example, you probably hear the "Tell me about yourself" or "Tell me about a problem you solved" question all the time. Behavioral interviews with these questions are overused so much that most interviewees prepare for the questions each and every interview. You may run across these types of questions on your job search. Here are the reasons why behavioral questions are the worst.

Based in Fear

By their very nature, behavioral interviews have their basis in fear. The idea is that if you don't answer these questions properly, you may not get the job. Instead, candidates prefer companies telling them what it takes to land the position rather than figuring out someone's psychology. You can show how you alleviate an employer's problems thanks to your experience, skills and qualifications without having to get into how you solved a problem in the past. After all, you're trying to look to the future with a job rather than delving into what you did previously, and checking on references deals with your past behaviors.

The underlying principle of these questions is to figure out who is worthy enough to get the job. Unfortunately, that's not what a job search is about when it comes to finding the best candidate. Instead, interviewers should focus on your strengths and what you bring to the position.

Prepared Responses

Candidates know exactly how to respond to behavioral interviews because HR experts and interviewees write about what to do. Use the STAR method of telling a story; remaining honest and preparing ahead of time puts your answers at the forefront of your mind. Employers should surprise you with an unexpected question to get to how you handled something for which you didn't prepare.

Hiring managers don't really make a connection with candidates when they embark on behavioral interviews. That's because, again, you already have the responses in mind. Instead, managers should have honest conversations.

What Should Happen

The best face time occurs when interviewers let candidates ask questions right away. This way, both sides of the room get to have an open, honest conversation about the candidate's qualifications, expectations and skills. HR should find out what a candidate can do for the company. What, precisely, is the company culture and the daily job duties? Meanwhile, you can talk about what the employer can do to invest in your services while reacting to what the person just told you. Open and frank conversations get to the heart of the matter much better than a 30-minute question-and-answer session.

Rather than behavioral interviews, the best face time includes a two-way conversation about what's mutually beneficial to the employer and you. These conversations make everyone relax as they reach a consensus about your prospects of landing a job.

Photo courtesy of HZ University of Applied Science at


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