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Preparing for a Performance-based Interview

Lesson 18 Module 6

What is Performance-based Interviewing?

Technically Performance-based Hiring can be classified as behavioral interview, yet it has very important differences. As mentioned in an earlier lesson, I've certified 2,000+ recruiters in this method as a consultant to Lou Adler, the developer of this method. This includes recruiters from many prestigious companies.

Here are the similarities and differences.

  • How the questions should be answered. This is similar. You would use the STAR method to structure your answers.
  • The structure of the questions. This is different because the questions center around pre-defined performance objectives vs. more abstract job competencies. By default the required competences are included in these objectives. See examples of common performance objectives below.
  • The focus of the questions. This is somewhat the same. Pure behavioral interview questions are more focused on past behavior while the performance approach focuses on both past and future.
  • The Hiring Process. This is different. Performance-based Hiring is an end-to-end business hiring process that spans the full life-cycle of the hiring process from requisition open through hiring and on-boarding. Behavioral interviews are limited to just the interview step.

Performance-based Interviewing Question Structure

Performance-based interviews use three basic questions and one technique. These are used in conjunction with pre-defined job performance objectives during the interview. See examples of performance objectives below.

Work history review. The interviewer reviews you job history to understand the full scope of your role. Then they'll ask you for your 'most significant accomplishment' for each job. You can also think of this as something you're 'most proud of' while in that job.

Comparison of background to performance objectives. The interviewer uses the pre-defined performance objectives and asks you, "what have you done that is most comparable?" This is where you'll use the STAR answer method.

How would you go about that? This is a future or forward thinking question that causes a discussion about how you'd go about doing the real work. The interviewer states a key performance objective and then asks, "how would you go about that?" This is a great opportunity for you because it allows you to showcase just how you'd approach the job. It also provides you with an opportunity to be sure you understand what is expected and to determine if you really want to be doing this specific job!

The Probe Question Technique. This is the 'peel the onion' or 'drill down' technique mentioned in an earlier lesson. After the interviewer asks any of the above questions, they will begin a deep probe to fully understand your initial answer. If you give shallow answers, evasive answers and/or rambling answers you'll likely fail this type of interview. People who embellish their work will quickly discover they will be 'painted into a corner' and this will not end well for them as a candidate.

Short Examples of a Performance Objective

Click on the blue bar below for an example of performance objectives for a few common jobs.I'll only include one for example sake, however, most jobs will have from 4 to 8 objectives, some of which will have sub-objectives. 

Every job will have performance outcomes, it's just a matter of figuring out what they are. Think of these as defining what 'success on-the-job looks like.' In other words, if you performed well across all of them your job performance would be outstanding. 

Sales Job

Achieve an annual quota of $1.7 million by closing sales with 20-25 new enterprise accounts each year. As part of this achieve a minimum monthly run rate of $200 thousand within six months.

Product Engineer

Organize and Lead the Test Effort for the Cordata Project: Takes ownership for determining overall test needs and supporting the project test plan and test strategy definition on large, complex chips. Within 45 days prior to project kick off, develop a complete test plan for managing the project through until completion. This includes the development of the project schedule, identification of all resource requirements, and managing the project through completion. Production certification is now scheduled for (date).

Advanced Practical Nurse

Assess the current state of patient care within the assigned specialty: Within the first 3-6 months, review all current clinical care management practices and current patient outcome performance indicators. Develop a plan (including measurable metrics) to improve the quality of the care provided and associated patient outcomes by incorporating evidence based and best practices into the patient care process. The APN, in partnership with the Clinical Director, must also evaluate patient care practices on all shifts and will need to implement a work schedule that addresses the needs of night, evening and week-end shifts. (Competencies: Technical Competency, Analysis, Planning, Organization, Prioritization)

Software Developer

Complete A Software Development Plan: Within the first 3 week(s), develop a project plan for development of the modules assigned to this position, outlining key project milestones, time to completion and present for approval.

Write Efficient Code To Meet Requirements Of The Project: Begin writing code within 2 weeks(s). Code will be written using Python in an efficient manner, keeping with documented industry and company processes and standards and be able to be seamlessly integrated into modules being developed by other team members. This includes maintaining a bug error rate of less than 5%.

Plant Manager

Improve Operating Performance: During the fist year improve performance efficiency in the foil product line from 85% to 95%. During the first 30 days conduct a complete operational review of this lines operation to include product capabilities, maintenance, and safety. Identify priority order areas needing corrective action. Present a plan of action to the executive team describing plans, schedules and cost issues.

The Probing Technique Sample Questions

Imagine the interviewer using questions based on the following probes to better understand your most significant accomplishments, your comparable work for performance objectives and how you'd go about accomplishing those objectives.

  • What was your role
  • Why were you involved/chosen
  • Describe team involved; Who else was involved; describe their roles
  • What were your biggest challenges, obstacles
  •  Biggest overall team challenges
  • What resources used
  • When, value, impact, how long
  • How was success measured
  • Describe the technology involved
  • What technical skills were learned, used
  • What else did you learn
  • Walk me through the life-cycle of project/situation
  • What support was involved
  • How did you manage your work load
  • How were multiple events kept on schedule
  • What would you do differently next time
  • How could a better outcome been realized
  • What did your boss say about the outcome
  • What did you like best/least
  • Biggest team failures, why
  • What goals were met, unmet, why
  • Problems faced, resolved, how

Want a Practice Interview With an Interviewing Expert?

Master the art of the job interview. Learn how an expert-led interview coach will help you with answering questions from every style of interview. Make your mistakes with your coach because mistakes with the real job interviewer ends your chances of getting the interview.

You'll hone your interview skills during mock interviews and get real-time feedback along with a plan tailored just for you so you can meet your career objectives.

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