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Give Your Team the Diversity Advantage with Behavioral Interviews

Study after study has shown there to be almost boundless advantages when teams benefit from diversity in their makeup. For example, Stanford University has concluded that diversity in teamwork contributes to overwhelming project success. It has found that diversity across dimensions which include functional expertise, personality, behavior and education enhances creativity and problem-solving capabilities.

As Patrick Lencioni discusses in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, when a group is too alike and gets on too well (unable to step into constructive conflict) it inevitably suffers from a lack of innovation and creativity.

When diverse teams are managed effectively, workplace benefits include:

  • Increased flexibility and adaptability
  • A healthier and wider range of views
  • Inspiration to outperform
  • More complete set of skills enabling a wider range of services

To unlock these and other benefits, managers will need to identify people who offer the diversity needed with the ability to perform as a team player. Behavioral interview techniques are equally effective for identifying the best candidates from both internal human capital resource and external searches.

In this article, you’ll be introduced to the reason why behavioral traits of employees (and managers) are so important. We’ll also discuss why you need to add in a behavioral dimension to interviews, and how to do so.

What do traditional interviews tell you?

Traditional interview questions ask interviewees about previous results. While this is an important aspect to test – previous success is likely to be repeated – traditional interview questions only ask about the ‘what’. However, modern organizations are less autocratic, and businesses are faced with the challenges of flattened management hierarchies: it’s necessary to delve deeper to assess candidate suitability.

Why it’s necessary to understand behavioral patterns

To build teams that gel together, it is not only necessary to ask about the ‘what’ of previous successes, but also to understand the ‘how’ – how did a person achieve their success, or drive a team to punch through targets?

Take the example of a manager who targets his or her people to increase sales by 5% every month. The manager’s strategy of constantly leaning on people, demanding higher sales, and forcing people to work overtime to achieve results produced the results the manager wanted. But within months, the team started to disintegrate as salespeople started to move elsewhere. Great short-term results, but at what long-term cost?

Encourage storytelling

When interviewing to assess behavioral competencies, you’ll want to ask questions that encourage storytelling. The more a candidate is allowed to say, the more you will discover about his or her potential to fit in with your corporate culture, beliefs and values.

Behavioral interview questions should be targeted at eliciting stories that explain how candidates responded to situations, informing you how they are likely to respond in the future.

  • Ask about how the candidate managed in a team that had disagreements, and how he or she helped to resolve issues.
  • Provide a hypothetical scenario with a difficult situation that the candidate encounters, and ask how he or she would deal with it.

During the interview, take time to interrogate for the competencies that will complement your team:

  • Understand that the candidate will have both strengths and weaknesses, and weigh these up in the context of the team.
  • Listen carefully to the answers you are given, and look for patterns of repeated behaviors.
  • Ask about what the candidate has learned from previous experiences.

When you interview effectively to enquire about behavioral competencies, you will also find that you’ll learn much about an individual’s emotional intelligence. And if you have inherited a team, behavioral interviewing techniques will help you identify the weak links that are disruptive to teamwork, as you uncover the five telltale clues that your team needs an emotional intelligence workshop.

Contact Forward Focus today to discover how an Emotional Intelligence course will develop and embed effective personal skills in the workplace, for leaders, managers and employees.

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