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Effort-Oriented Behavioral Interview Questions

Effort-oriented behavioral interview questionsMany times we have been asked, "How do you identify high-effort in an interview?"


Every seasoned manager knows that prospective employees can 'flick the switch' and put out sufficient effort to create a favorable impression within an interview. Unfortunately, some of these people may not provide that same level of effort once they are working for your organization. To help you identify the individuals who will provide consistent effort, we have compiled interview questions that focus on behaviors found in high-effort people.


To receive maximum benefit from these questions, first think about the job function you are interviewing for. What competencies are required for success in that role? Once you have thought through the required competencies, scan the list of questions (below) and highlight those that relate directly to the job. Notice that each question is grouped under the predominant competency being assessed. Probing questions are also included to help you drill deeper for truth, clarity and consistency. A list of additional probing questions can be found at the end of this page.


Competency: Dealing with Ambiguity/Adapting to Change


Main Question: Tell me about a time when you had to act on something important before you had time to come up with a good answer or solution?
Probing Question: How did others react when you did that? What did you learn from that situation?
Main Question: Tell me about a time you were challenged beyond what you thought your limits were?
Probing Question: What resources did you tap into to over this challenge? Was there a real change in you after that experience?
Main Question: What's the quickest and toughest mental shift you have ever had to make?
Probing Question: Do you always learn that quickly or was that a special situation?


Competency: Problem Solving


Main Question: Describe a situation in which you saw a problem and took action to correct it rather than wait for someone else to do so.
Probing Question: Is this natural for you or do you really have to dig for it?
Main Question: Tell me about a new work process you came up with to solve an old problem.
Probing Question: How did you come up with that approach? How typical is this for you?
Main Question: Tell me about a time you were alone and stranded without a solution and had to make things up as you went along?
Probing Question: How did you know it would work? How would you approach that same situation today?


Competency: Perseverance/Tenacity


Main Question: Projects rarely proceed without obstacles. Tell me about a recent project you worked on in which you encountered a major obstacle.
Probing Question: What did you do to get around that obstacle? What did you learn from that experience that will help you in the future?
Main Question: Things don't always go our way. Describe a situation in which you tried your hardest but didn't achieve the desired result.
Probing Question: Why do you think that didn't work? How would you approach that same situation today?
Main Question: What happens to your performance when a lot of things are up in the air?
Probing Question: How do others you have known approach that? Do you think you are better at persevering than most? Why?


Competency: Personal Development


Main Question: In your previous work experience, have you ever taken a weakness and developed it into a strength?
Probing Questions: What was happening at the time that prompted you to do this?
  What feedback did you get from others once you had developed yourself?
Main Question: Describe a time when you were surprised by a piece of negative feedback about yourself that actually turned out to be true.
Probing Questions: How did you feel?
  Why do you think you did not recognize this weakness?
  What did you learn from that?


Competency: Results Orientation


Main Question: Tell me about a time when you were responsible for implementing a change to a process or activity to improve results.
Probing Question: Did you run into any resistence from other people? If so, how did you handle that?
Main Question: Tell me about a time when you still got results even though some major external factor changed (e.g., budget cuts, merger, new competition).
Probing Question: What did you do that others didn't?
Main Question: Who do you consider to be a model "results-getter?"
Probing Questions: What distinguishes him/her from others?
  What characteristics have you incorporated? Why those?


Additional Probing Questions


  Can you give me a picture of that?
  If I were there, what would I see?
  Can you give me an example of a time that you . . . ?
  You said 'we'. What did you do specifically? What part did you play?
  Can you tell me what you mean by . . . ?
  That was a good overview. Now, let's go back and get the details.
  How were you feeling when . . . ?
  What went through your mind when . . . ?
  Tell me about a time when you . . .
  Take a minute to reflect. What were the key events, the critical points along the way?
  How did it start?
  What led up to it?
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