Jul 12, 2006

Observational interviewing

Dave has a great post on how people behave when they think they are not being observed, and how that could be a better gauge to behavior than Behavioral Event Interviewing.

However, doing the cloak and dagger stuff of asking people to observe candidates is not the only way you can find actual behavior patterns of people. There is a far more traditional way - it's called the Assessment Center.

The issues with these selection processes is that it takes time and energy and hence are used only for selection of high impact roles. Checking references, if done properly is also a great way to find out behavioral patterns of the past.

Of course, the correct person should be doing the reference check and should be asking the right questions. Larry Bossidy talks about a bad hire in his book Execution, and lays the fault on his (Larry) not knowing the person from whom he got the reference check done.

Some tips for effective reference checks:

  1. Call and give notice of the check
  2. Ask specific behavioral questions
  3. Tell the role you are considering the candidate for and ask if you are setting him up for success or otherwise.

Who knows, maybe a great reference check might give you additional candidates ("hmm, so you have such a role? Maybe X won't be great fit for reasons A, B and C...however you might want to see Y who works on company LMN")

Accountant Careers.co.uk provides accounting jobs in the UK via its employment Web site.


  1. One tip I received for interviewing senior people was get a PA or cleaner to come in with a coffee. You would be amazed at how many people say "they are a people person" and then ignore this "underling" It was a great tip!

  2. I agree about getting to know the behavioural patterns of an individual when the individual doesn't know that he is being observed. That would be the rigjht gauge!. Good article...Keep posting!