Behavioral interviewing tip #7: Don’t try to game the system (because it’s essentially impossible)

Previous posts in series:

As behavioral interviewing becomes more and more popular because of its effectiveness in comparison to traditional interviewing techniques, more and more people are trying to game the system, hack it, or otherwise circumvent it.

For example, there are websites that have lists of possible interviewing questions and offer techniques for answering them. Some of these websites are fine and present tips as we do here. There’s nothing wrong with practicing the fundamentals; that’s not what I’m talking about here. But other websites give the impression or outright tell you that you can “ace the interview” without having the fundamentals in place.

Similarly, some people think that they can smooth-talk through the interview or make up answers (with varying levels of truthfulness) on the fly. It doesn’t work. Here’s why.

As a rule, traditional interviews are a type of performance. The candidate appears in nice business attire and seeks to make a good impression. There is very little structure to the questions asked, and the method of assessing the answers is shaky if it’s present at all. A candidate is worthy of further consideration or hiring on the spot of he or she makes a good impression. And unworthy in the case of a bad impression.

Seeing if people can present themselves in a social situation is fine as far as it goes. The problem is when that’s all there is. And that’s why behavioral interviewing was created: to ask candidates concrete questions about their behaviors and focus on results.

The false concept of “acing” the behavioral interview is based on using charm and the gift of gab–old school techniques that don’t work in the behavioral interview. Gaming the system is essentially impossible because the interviewer is interested in the content of the answers, not (beyond a certain point) the social graces of the person giving them.

The fundamentals are what count: being able to talk about your past successes concretely–and preferably with lots of numbers to back you up.

The Key Corporate Services Blog Team