Follow us on:   
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in comments
Filter by Content Type
Resource Listings

Behavioral Interviewing — Deader than the Dodo

by Judith Thomas
Is the behavioral style of interviewing a good method to teach our clients?

Personally, I do not believe that it is. A behavioral interview merely reveals a person’s ability to memorize answers to very predictable questions. About as exciting as watching a kettle boil, it does not demonstrate a candidate’s ability to be adaptable or a good fit for the position. Non-creative types can ace them.

Most employers have moved on from this type of questioning for two main reasons:

Reason 1: The premise of this type of interview is that a person has behaved a certain way in the past, so they are certain to behave in a similar way in the future.

I would like to challenge that premise with these three questions:

  • How many of you have made mistakes in the past?
  • Did you learn from them?
  • Would you behave differently in the future in a similar situation?

People are evolving beings. We constantly learn and grow through our life experiences. Because we may have behaved a certain way in the past does not guarantee that we will act similarly in the future.

Reason 2: Employment specialists, like ourselves, can train almost anyone how to ace this type of interview.

Most people know the set formula for these sort of answers.  Many employment specialists have clients who can ace a behavioral interview, but have trouble maintaining employment.

Organizations want someone who is an excellent communicator with honed computer skills; adaptable, multi-functioning, self-directed, innovative, collaborative, and a quick thinker.

Behavioral interviewing does not identify those skill sets.

Alternative Styles

On a more positive note, let’s look at some alternative interview styles.

What types of interview questions look forward?

Here are some examples from my workshop participants, at the Cannexus Conference held January 2011:


  • How do you keep up-to-date with the most current trends?
  • What would you do with an unlimited budget?
  • How will you contribute to making others feel they belong here?
  • How would you blend intergenerational teams?


  • What do you think makes for good customer service, A) In person? B) Globally?
  • What do you want to be recognized for?
  • When you leave, what do you hope to be able to say about your career with us?
  • What is the place of social networking within a workplace?

Demonstration of skills

  • Give us two new ideas for workshops in the coming year.
  • In the following scenario, I am going to demonstrate being an aggressive customer. I would like you to attempt to calm me down in less than three minutes.
  • Please deliver a five-minute speech on why you value diversity in the workplace.


Psychological questions prove that a candidate is not fazed when you ask them something unusual, but are adaptable and can think on their feet.

  • If you were on a hockey team, what position would you play?

Note that most of the forward-looking questions, in each category, are open-ended. This leaves the candidate a lot of room for a truthful response, rather than a memorized script.

Check with your employer base. Find out what type of interview formats they are using. Most of my recent clients have had one of the forward-looking types of interviews. If you continue to teach the behavioral style, be sure to train in other styles as well so that your clients are progressively equipped.

Judith Thomas is a career development practitioner who has her own business entitled Canada Career Coach. She is a writer with three articles published in the Contactpoint Bulletin and two guides for persons with disabilities, currently being edited, ready for publication. Judith is an excellent public speaker who has presented at private businesses on disability issues, schools on the importance of career choices, and at many conferences on employment-based issues.

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar