The Intent Behind the Behavioral Interview
Thousands of employers in the hospitality industry are forgoing the traditional interview format and are instead opting to use behavioral interviewing, which has grown in usage over the past decade. We live in an economy that demands that potential employees have skills specific to a posted job, as well as transferable skills and the ability to work both alone and as a team player.
Behavioral interviewing differs from traditional interviewing in that it allows the employer to ask what the candidate did do in a past situation, rather than what they would do. An employer searching for a viable candidate for a hotel or resort job want to know what type of customer service skills the candidate has. An employer needing to fill a position within the food service or restaurant industry wants to know how reliable a person is with respect to quality, sanitation and safety.
The intent of behavioral interviewing is to give the employer a clear sense of a person's experiences, knowledge, skills and abilities. The premise is that asking varied questions will reveal past performances, which are good indicators of future performances.
What are the techniques in interviewing?
Behavioral interviewing models are very different from the traditional interview. There are three basic techniques used by employers.
- Open ended questions- these questions begin with "Tell me about a time that you" or "Share with me about a time when" This type of question allows the employer to gain insight into the candidate and will allow for asking further questions.
- Closed questions- these questions would be asked to verify data noted on the application. For example, an employer seeking a front desk manager may ask "You have ten years working as a supervisor in Customer Service, correct?"
- Why questions- these questions allow the employer to listen to the reason and logic of the potential candidate. For example, an employer doing interviews with chefs may ask "Why did you decide to train at Johnson and Wales, rather than the Culinary Institute of America?"
How should an employer prepare for a behavioral interview?
Employment specialists, such as twenty year veteran specialist Jennifer Eldridge, of Employment Support Services, suggest that an employer in the hospitality industry begin by looking at the mission statement and vision of the company, when creating the questions that can be asked of candidates.
Employers can pull key words from the vision and mission statement, which state the core value that is held by the company. If customer satisfaction is a keyword; the employer might create an open question such as "Tell me about an experience you had with an unhappy customer."
After reviewing the vision and mission statement of the company, an employer should review the specific job description of the position being interviewed for. The owner of a reputable hotel and restaurant has stated that he considers punctuality essential to the job, and asks questions such as "Tell me about a time that you were late for work."
A list of ten or twelve questions should be developed, to prepare for the interview. If the mission/vision statements and job description do not reveal desired values, the following list may be helpful:
- Candidate's knowledge of the hospitality industry and the specific job interviewed for
- Candidate's professional skills and training
- Candidate's ability to work in a specific culture
- Candidate's ability to learn new skills and techniques
- Candidate's work ethic and relational skills
- Candidate's ability to make decisions
- Candidate's organizational skills
An evaluation tool will be essential. Most employers use a simple 1-5 rating scale, with 1 being unacceptable and 5 being excellent. Questions are written, with the desired answer or keywords in bold beneath the question.
Pick the interview team. In general, it is a good idea to include a direct and a mid-level supervisor in the interview. Depending upon the position being interviewed for, the company president or CEO should also be a part of the interview team.
Ask the interview team to review candidate resumes and cover letters. These provide critical information about the candidate. If one of the required skills is attention to detail, take note of whether or not there are spelling or grammatical errors. Weed out the ones that have them. If they have not been detailed when applying for a job, chances are they will not be detail minded at work.
Select the candidate who most closely aligns with the answers that were determined to be needed for success on the job.
You will see results
Making the switch to behavioral interviewing will yield a high level of success for both you and the employee; as well as increase the quality of your company. If you are in the hospitality industry, it is essential that you find viable candidates that will give five star service to your guests, and behavioral interviewing will aid you in hiring those people.
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Related Hospitality Career Articles:
• Turning the Tables: Smart Questions to Ask the Interviewer
• An Itinerary for Acing Each Phase of a Job Interview
• How-to Ace an Interview - 10 Tips for Making a Great Impression