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3 Interview Tips from my Best Behavioral Hire

My job candidate calls me in again to ask more questions.

I’m not sure why I’m letting this continue.

Usually the programming test lasts 15 minutes.


It has already been over an hour.

I’m losing my patience.

Except that I’m intrigued by her earnest determination.

She is making forward progress.


I answer her questions and leave her to her task.

After 90 minutes she’s finished.

She walks me through her solution.

I have given this test hundreds of times.

She teaches me something new about the problem.

In her final sentence, a throw-away to her, she demonstrates to me that she understands the solution better than anyone I have ever tested.

I hire her.

It takes her 6 times longer to get up to speed as any other developer I had ever hired.

And once she was up to speed, no one was better.

But I already knew that.

Because it took her 6 times longer than usual to solve the test.

And once she got it, no one (including me) understood it better.

That’s why I believe in behavioral interviewing.

Here are the 3 tips:

1. Testing, Testing, Testing…

You are going to be working closely with this new hire.

The interview process is a good chance to find out what it’s like to work with them.

Can they do what they say they can do?

Do they ask good questions?

Do you find it frustrating or empowering to problem solve with them?

If you need people to create spreadsheets in Excel, sit them down with a computer and a 10 minute assignment like the ones you’ll give them.

If you need people to show up at 7:30 every morning, hold interviews at 7:30 in the morning. The candidates who complain about the time probably aren’t a match for the position.

The tests should be straightforward, simple, and completely work related.

The discipline is to recognize that you get information about the candidate from every step of the process. If you’re hoping something will improve once they are hired, go out and find better candidates.

2. Management Gold

These tests can give you crucial information about how to manage your new employees. In fact, the management process starts at the interview.

Does the candidate like verbal or written instructions?

Are they jump in and try or plan and analyze?

How do they handle frustration and mistakes?

You can learn valuable information during the interview process that will help you manage your employees to success.

3. Standards

It’s usual to wonder whether your standards are too high or your tests are too hard.

They’re not.

Because how can you hire someone who can’t do the basic work?

Behavioral interviewing is about learning the truth before you hire.

I learned that my candidate wouldn’t give up and that once she got it she knew it better than anyone.

My best behavioral hire.

What do you learn from your candidates? 

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