Using Performance Objectives in Recruitment Interviewing

performance objectivesWhy use performance objectives in recruitment interviewing?

OK, so the easy part of the interview is out of the way. You’ve checked the candidate has got the right qualifications, the right level of experience, the technical knowledge you need  and you can see that they can present themselves well. Super.

But what about the candidate’s skills and attributes?  What about;

  • how the candidate works in a team
  • how they deal with problems
  • their ability to be creative
  • how they work under pressure and so on?

I’ve coached and trained many managers in recruitment interviewing skills (and been a recruiter myself) and I know how challenging it can be to collect real ‘evidence’ of the candidates skills and attributes. I also know how easy it is to assume a candidate has the skills and attributes you are looking for, without gaining any evidence.

How to interview a candidate on skills and attributes using performance objectives

From a practical viewpoint, skills and attributes are essentially the behaviours you would want to see the candidate demonstrate if they were to become an employee. The start point is getting crystal clear about what it is that you want – how you want people to behave – so that you can then give the candidate the opportunity to evidence to you that they do behave in that way. Here’s where well written performance objectives prove to be so useful. For example, let’s assume you want to interview a candidate about their ability to work under pressure. What do you mean by ‘ability to work under pressure’? What behaviours will you expect the candidate to be able to evidence?

Let’s take an example or two:

Sample Performance Objectives: ABILITY TO WORK UNDER PRESSURE

Consistently demonstrate:

1. Planning to see a job through to completion, to deadline

2. Taking action to identify and overcome any barriers to completion

3. Re-prioritising as necessary and managing conflicting demands on time

4. Recognising and managing the escalation of issues that cannot be resolved at your own level

5. Developing and implementing strategies to cope with sustained pressure of work over a protracted period of time

Using performance objectives to develop great interview questions 

I think it’s common sense to assume that the best predictor of how a person will behave in the future is how they have behaved in similar situations in the past, particularly the recent past. Now that we have real clarity – by using performance objectives  – we can identify the questions which will enable us to begin gathering data on how strongly s(he) has demonstrated the behaviours we want. Here are some example questions

Example Questions – Ability To Work Under Pressure

Tell me of a time when you have had difficulty in meeting a deadline

  • What did you do?
  • What led you to decide to take that action?
  • What did you take into consideration when you reprioritised your work?
  • Who was affected by your actions?
  • How did you involve / get them to agree to your reprioritisation?
  • What was the outcome?

Now describe to me a situation when, despite all your efforts, you were unable to meet a deadline

  • What did you do?
  • What led you to decide to take that action?
  • What was the outcome?
  • What did you learn?

Tell me about a time recently when you have had to work under a lot of pressure

  • How did the pressure arise?
  • What did you do?
  • What have you learnt from the experience?

Using Performance Objectives in Recruitment Interviewing – Summary 

Having real clarity about what skills and attributes look like in practice (and using behavioural performance objectives is an easy way to get that clarity) means we can use focused questions to give the candidate the opportunity to give us the ‘evidence’ we want and need. We can then assess the candidates responses – their examples of past behaviours -against the performance objectives in order to clearly assess whether the candidate can demonstrate they have behaved (and will behave) in the way we need. And that can seriously improve our recruitment interviews


Do you want to read more about Performance Objectives?

performance objectivesWhy not take a look at my e-book ‘Motivating Your Staff with Powerful Performance Objectives’ – a step-by-step guide for managers, team leaders and supervisors who want to motivate their staff to high performance. More details HERE

One Response to Using Performance Objectives in Recruitment Interviewing

  1. […] and seriously improve our recruitment success. Read more, and get some example questions, at Using Performance Objectives in Recruitment Interviewing  […]

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