Behavioral assessments for hiring are a valuable tool for employers. While one’s credentials and resume are leading factors in choosing a candidate, testing one's soft skills can be the difference between a mediocre hire and an exceptional hire.
Ultimately, behavioral assessments can provide companies with insight into the candidate's personality. By personality, we mean how a candidate thinks through difficult situations and reacts to various scenarios.
Continue reading for the ultimate guide to behavioral assessments for employment.
What Are Behavioral Assessments, and How Can They Help Organizations When Hiring New Employees?
Behavioral assessments once belonged to the field of psychology, but the effectiveness of a behavioral evaluation makes it a valuable instrument in many other disciplines. A behavioral assessment is an evaluation of an individual.
The primary reason one conducts a behavioral assessment is to understand better and predict the individual's future behaviors. For example, a school counselor or psychologist may perform a behavioral assessment on a student with multiple complaints of disrupting the class.
In this case, a behavior assessment helps the examiner peer deeper into the situation and truly understand the cause or reason for the student’s behavior. Although behavioral assessments have traditionally been understood as a problem-solving technique, they can also be an asset to prevent hiring a risky employee.
When an organization seeks to expand their workforce, or fill an empty position, giving potential recruits a behavioral assessment provides insight into how they will fit into the company culture, react to different situations, and if they truly represent the company’s ideal candidate.
How To Use Behavioral Assessments for Hiring?
There are numerous ways to conduct behavioral assessments during the hiring process.
Although a potential candidate will likely be informed of the behavioral assessment, the type of behavioral assessment is completely dependent on the company, but most behavioral assessments for hiring force the candidate to reflect on their experience and the decisions made during XYZ, and why.
Here are four types of behavioral assessments for hiring:
- Multiple choice questionnaire
- Scale rating questionnaire, e.g., strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, and strongly disagree
- Open-ended, short response
- Recorded response assessment
Benefits of Using Behavioral Assessments in Your Hiring Process
There are many benefits of using behavioral assessments in your hiring process. Behavioral assessments are a valuable tool for hiring managers to find the best candidate for the position. Here are five benefits of using behavioral assessments for hiring:
As mentioned above, behavioral assessments offer the company and hiring team insight into
how a candidate will respond to a situation. Behavioral assessments help you predict the quality of performance that candidates will bring, which helps to eliminate and choose the ideal candidate for the position.
Behavioral assessments offer each candidate a fair chance at the position. As we know, unconscious race, gender, and ethnicity bias can, unfortunately, affect a company's hiring decisions.
Therefore, behavioral assessments can eliminate the possibility of unconscious bias during the hiring process. For example, if a candidate you were unsure about, but you weren't sure why, scores high on the assessment, they will instantly become a top candidate in your hiring decision.
Behavioral assessments allow you to pick the best candidate for the position without worrying about the possibility of a bad hire. To elaborate, knowing how a candidate will perform in the position allows you to quickly choose between the top three candidates you were stuck on.
Increase Return on Investment (RoI)
As the hiring manager, it’s your job to hire candidates who will perform admirably and grow within the company. Conducting behavioral assessments limits the possibility of a poor or mediocre hire, which, in turn, allows the open position to be held by the very best and limits the chance of a costly rehire.
Custom Role-based Questions
Behavioral assessments should be tailored to the position a candidate is applying for. These questions can give candidates further insight into the demands of the position, which can help them determine if they should look elsewhere or excel in the role.
What Types of Questions Are Typically Asked on Behavioral Assessments?
The type of questions that are typically asked on behavioral assessments target seven categories. While the questions one must answer change depending on the company, these 18 behavioral questions provide a meaningful example of what one should expect.
Communication questions are meant to test how you communicate with your boss, co-workers, and clients.
- Tell me about a time you had to deal with a frustrated or angry client. How did you go about it?
- Have you ever had to win a coworker or employee over? How did you persuade them to see things your way?
- Have you ever disagreed with a supervisor or boss? How did you handle it?
Customer service questions are meant to test how you deal with difficult clients and provide excellent customer service. It’s important to provide a story when you successfully represent your company and brand.
- Describe a time you went above and beyond to meet a client’s expectations. How did you impress them?
- Describe a time when you failed to meet a client’s expectations? How did you handle it?
- How do you develop a civil, respectful relationship with a customer or client?
Motivational questions help to hire managers to learn about what motivates them to excel in their careers.
- Tell me about a time you were in a leadership position that required you to motivate your employees. What strategies helped you?
- Describe a time you worked on a project where you were given the freedom to be as creative as you like. Describe the project and what you did well or found difficult.
- Occasionally our work is unfairly judged or criticized. Tell me about a recent situation in which you were unfairly criticized? How did you react?
Situational questions are meant to show how you think and act during difficult or stressful situations.
- Tell me about a time you made a difficult decision under pressure. How did you decide and what led you to your decision?
- Describe a time when your company changed? How did you handle it?
- Tell me about a time you had to make an important decision on the spot.
- Have you ever been in a situation where your role or responsibilities haven’t been clearly defined? What did you do?
In many jobs, interactions and collaboration with coworkers are common. Teamwork questions are meant to test how you deal with a difficult coworker and stay focused on the task at hand.
- Tell me about a time you had a conflict or disagreement with a coworker. How did you handle it?
- Have you ever made a mistake with a coworker or employee? What would you have done differently?
- Have you ever worked on a project with a coworker you didn’t get along with? How did you handle it?
Time management questions are meant to provide insight into how you deal with situations under strict deadlines, deal with multiple projects at once, and manage long-term projects.
- How do you organize and manage to complete multiple projects with strict deadlines?
- How do you stay on track in completing long-term projects?
- Tell me about a time when you improved a process to save time. What was the issue, and how did it turn out?
Value questions are meant to provide a potential employer insight into the things in your personal and professional life that you value.
- Tell me about a time you were proud of something you did.
- Describe a time you saw and fixed a mistake knowing you wouldn’t receive any recognition or praise.
- Tell me about a situation when you had to speak up to get a point across that was important to you or the customer.
How Should Applicants Prepare for a Behavioral Assessment?
While the exact wording of questions an applicant may receive on a behavioral assessment is unknown, there are many ways to prepare. One of the most important ways to prepare for a behavioral assessment is to reflect on your professional experience and have these stories prepared to share.
Here are some other ways to prepare:
- Review the job description by finding keywords to implement into your story,
- Reflect on the process of successful projects,
- Create a list of your professional and personal accomplishments, and
- Use the STAR method.
The STAR method is a simple preparation strategy for a behavioral assessment. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result.
The situation step of the STAR method means thinking of a story and organizing the who, what, when, and where of the situation. Some questions to answer are:
- What was your job title during the situation?
- Was it a team project? If so, who are the important characters?
- When did this occur?
- What was the project or task?
The task portion ensures that you share your role in the project or task. Here is where you should describe your responsibility concerning your role in the project.
The action asks you to share what you contributed to the project or did to complete the task. Ensure you prepare very specific examples of your contributions to the project.
For example, if you worked directly with the client, explain how you communicated with said client. Or, if you were one of the people on a team, explain what you contributed and how you communicated with your team members.
The last step of the STAR method requires you to share the result of the situation. Aside from sharing the result of the project, if there was a conflict during the project, explain how that was dealt with to get to the result.
Once you’ve organized your thoughts using the STAR method, practice explaining your story to an interviewer.
While a great anecdote of how you overcame something to deliver a project or complete a task is favorable, the way you tell your story is important too. In other words, if you lack confidence when explaining your accomplishments, continue to practice until you feel complete confidence in your abilities.
Preparing for Multiple Choice Behavioral Assessments for Hiring
Although these preparation tips are mainly for interview-based behavioral assessment or short-answer questions, here are some tips for preparing for a multiple choice assessment.
However, it’s important to note that one can’t necessarily prepare for a multiple choice assessment, but it can help to know what answers the hiring manager is looking for while remaining honest.
Honestly, answering interview or multiple choice behavioral assessment questions is not only important for the hiring manager, but for you, as an applicant to land a job, you’re confident you can excel.
One way to prepare for a multiple choice behavioral assessment is to review the job description by finding keywords that describe the characteristics asked for in the job.
Another tip for the questionnaire is to read the question thoroughly and ask yourself what they are –really– asking. To elaborate, some questions may seem pointless and random to you, but they all fall under a category the hiring team is trying to target.
Moreover, many times some of the questions are blunt and repetitive. Some questions may ask the same thing, but with different wording. While unknown, it is likely behavioral assessments do this to ensure the candidate is answering them honestly by ensuring consistency among the answers.
Finally, ensure you answer the questions honestly. This is the most important part of any interview or behavioral assessment for hiring.
What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Behavioral Assessments During the Hiring Process?
Here are the benefits and drawbacks of using behavioral assessments during the hiring process.
- Accurately predict the quality and performance each candidate will bring to help eliminate and choose the ideal candidate for the position.
- Behavioral assessments offer each candidate a fair chance at the position by eliminating the possibility of unconscious bias during the hiring process.
- Reduce the chances of rehiring by hiring new employees with confidence.
- Conducting behavioral assessments increases RoI.
- Tailor questions based on the position and strengths the company wants in an employee.
We’ve discussed many of the benefits of using behavioral assessments for hiring, but have yet to discuss the drawbacks. Here are the drawbacks of using behavioral assessment.
Questions Ask About the Past
While it is valuable for an employer to learn about a candidate’s past, it isn’t necessarily a sure-fire predictor of how they will perform in a new role and company. Moreover, while it helps better understand the way the client thinks and reacts to situations, it doesn’t provide the full picture and opens up the possibility of fabrication or exaggerated stories.
Sometimes, the behavioral assessment includes questions that candidates may feel uncomfortable answering because they’re intrusive and unrelated.
For example, a common question like do you like being alone? can warrant the client feeling uncomfortable or unnecessary. To elaborate, asking this question is personal, and even if the candidate prefers being alone, it doesn’t mean they struggle to work with a team or can’t communicate.
In-depth behavioral assessments are often lengthy requiring 30 minutes to an hour of a candidate’s time to complete. This can repel an exceptional candidate away, especially if other options they’ve applied to are moving faster in their hiring process.
Investing in customized roles or department-related behavioral assessments can be costly. At the same time, however, they decrease the chances of going through the expensive hiring process and increase the chances of investing in a loyal employee.
Although not certain, behavioral assessments are known to increase RoI.
Different Types of Behavioral Assessments for Employment
Here are some of the most common types of behavioral assessments for hiring.
The Myers-Briggs 16 personalities is a lengthy, yet accurate personality test. The test places people into four diverse personality groups: analysts, diplomats, sentinels, and explorers. Within these four categories are four specific personalities.
Analysts are rational, impartial, and intellectual. Diplomats are empathetic, diplomatic, and passionate. Sentinels are practical, orderly, and stable. Explorers are spontaneous, inventors, and flexible.
The OCEAN is a personality assessment that tests openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. The test takes around five to ten minutes to complete and consists of 60 questions.
The Enneagram test has nine personality types. Those personality types are the reformer, the helper, the achiever, the individualist, the investigator, the loyalist, the enthusiast, the challenger, and the peacemaker.
Industry-related behavioral assessments are tailored to the industry. For example, a customer service company should have different questions than an office position where hospitality isn’t as common.
Scale-based behavioral assessments ask candidates to rate each statement or question on a scale from strongly agree to disagree.
Case study behavioral assessments ask candidates to read about a scenario and discuss what they would do in the situation. These assessments ask the candidate to find the important information and use it to respond correctly to the imagined situation.
Role-based behavioral assessments are tailored specifically to the role the company is trying to fill. These could be structured as a questionnaire or with potential scenarios one should expect to encounter.
In general behavioral assessments are based on the level of the job. For example, candidates applying for entry-level positions should be good communicators, active listeners, team players, pay attention to detail, curious, open-minded, and adaptable.
Candidates applying for senior-level positions should be able to effectively manage conflict, have strong decision-making skills, think strategically, and react efficiently to stressful situations.
Hopefully, after reading our guide to behavioral assessments for hiring, you’ve learned the importance of including these in your hiring process, common questions in behavioral assessments, and how to prepare for them.