Monday, July 14, 2008

Avoid asking hypothetical questions in interviews

I have taken part in many interviews as interviewer and interviewee. I have seen many interviewers ( including me ) ask many  hypothetical questions especially for management positions. 

Hypothetical question example :
When one of your team member does not show up on time for work, how will you handle the situation ? 

The interviewee usually comes with a textbook answer. Something like , 
I will talk to him/her about him/her not showing up on time. 

This is a very good answer. But this answer does not mean that the interviewee has any experience handling these kinds of situations. It just means that the interviewee had read some books about management. So instead of asking hypothetical questions, we should be asking "behavior description questions"

For example instead of asking 
"When one of your team member does not show up on time, how will you handle the situation?"

we should be asking 
"Tell me about a time when one of your team member was not showing up on time, how did you handle that situation?" .

This way of questions will help interviewee to explain how they worked in their past instead of coming up with some hypothetical answer.