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Behavior-Based Interviewing for Presidential Candidates

How to Choose the Right Person for the Right Job Every TimeWow, what a concept: Subject Presidential candidates to the same intense, rigorous examination that executives go through during the interview process. In perusing the list of leadership questions assembled by the Center for Public Leadership (Harvard/Kennedy School of Government) and The Ken Blanchard Companies, I noticed that many of them are behavior-based questions, framed like this:

  • Tell me about a time when…
  • Give me an example of…

As I wrote in my book, How to Choose the Right Person for the Right Job Every Time (McGraw-Hill, 2005; Lori Davila, co-author), behavior-based interviews have been proven to be measurably more effective than conventional interviews. In one study, conventional interviews led to selection of the best candidate just 19% of the time, while behavior-based interviews boosted that rate to 75%!

The power of behavior-based questions is that they require candidates to provide specific, relevant examples from past experience that demonstrate the competency that is being sought. With this type of question, candidates can’t get away with the same old “stump speech” or provide a non-answer – as politicians are so adept at doing.

As a candidate, you can boost your interview performance by preparing behavior-based responses – brief stories that describe the Situation, Action, and Results you took in a variety of challenging circumstances throughout your career. Your specific answers will be much more memorable and credible than many candidates’ vague, general, or memorized “canned” responses.

Now if we could only get the political candidates to do the same thing…

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