Sunday, October 01, 2006
Behavioral or situational questions?
Whether to use behavioral or situational interview questions is a source of constant debate. Behavioral questions are all the rage, yet research has consistenly shown that both types of questions, when part of a structured interview, have value.
The September issue of the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology reports the results of a study that looked at which type of question predicted performance for a sample of managerial positions (N=157).
Results? Behavioral questions bested situational questions (r=.32 versus r=.09). This result has been found before--namely for higher level positions, behavioral questions tend to predict better. Why? One reason is the constructs measured using these types of questions are a better match for the KSAs you're looking for in managers (e.g., personality traits). It also makes intuitive sense--the more experienced someone is, the more likely they are to have a history of experiences they can draw on that illustrate their decision making style, supervision style, etc.
My take: both types of questions can work. Look to your job analysis to determine what type of question makes sense given what you're looking for. Don't be afraid to mix up question types, and as always, combine interviews with other types of assessment.