What Is a Performance-Based Interview?

A performance-based interview is based on goal-related questions that the interviewer asks the applicant regarding personal or professional goals that he/she established for himself/herself and the actions that he/she took to reach them.

Examples of Performance-Based Interview Questions

Performance-based interview questions cover creativity, expressing opinions, making decisions, communications, leadership, delegating, goal-setting, and conflict resolution in both personal and professional situations. Remember that Federal employees, especially those in branches of the military, are frequently expected to follow orders and instructions from superiors without question.

Examples include:

  • What was the most ingenious idea you came up with on a job and how did you convince your boss to implement it?
  • Tell me about an incident where you had a strong opinion on a situation that may not be popular, but you thought it was too important to ignore and voiced it.
  • How do you handle situations where you’re describing an important concept or instructions to someone and it’s obvious you two are not understanding each other?
  • Describe how you have led a team to achieve high goals under difficult circumstances.
  • What are the most impressive goals you’ve reached and how?
  • How do you handle deadlines that are moved up or projects that suddenly need more input than you expected?
  • Tell me how you handled a difficult customer and used your interpersonal communication skills to solve the problem to their satisfaction without escalating the situation.
  • Explain circumstances where you became known as the go-to person who could be counted on to help out wherever you were needed for as long as needed.
  • What experience do you have in writing memos, reports, or general business correspondence that shows your skills in clear and concise written communications? 

Guidelines for Performance-Based Interviewers

Performance-based interviewers must follow guidelines to ensure a fair and equitable interview that accurately assesses the candidate’s qualifications for the job. More mistakes occur in the first 30 minutes of the interview based on bias, the influence of first impressions, and unclear perception of actual job needs.

Utilizing a combination of the performance-based interview and the accompanying Quality of Hire Talent Scorecard to evaluate competency, enthusiasm, and job fit begins with the creation of a detailed performance-based job description clearly outlining what the applicant must achieve to attain success.

 Important procedures include:

  • Taking control of the meeting while remaining friendly and professional.
  • An immediate and brief overview of the applicant’s employment history for the past 5 to 10 years.
  • If a candidate's job history includes working for the Federal Government and/or military service, he/she may be prohibited from sharing certain information for the protection of restricted or classified information.
  • Carefully examining the candidate’s major accomplishments and how they reflect growth and good analysis.
  • Exploring what the applicant’s career goals are, why they are important to them, how they plan to achieve them, and what the projected time table is for reaching the goals.
  • Determining why they are looking for a new job.
  • Including a question and answer forum about the position for the candidate to learn more about the scope of the job.
  • Taking at least 30 minutes to review the interview before making a final judgment on the applicant’s qualifications.

What Is Needed for a Successful Performance-Based Interview?

To conduct a successful performance-based interview, the interviewer must understand the job requirements above and beyond basic technical and functional expertise. He/she must be able to accurately judge the competence and motivation of the candidate as well as how they will fit into the job setting.

Important tools include:

  • A solid and clear performance profile that describes in detail what is expected of the candidate to successfully perform their job; a simple list of necessary skills and experience are insufficient.
  • Having a recruiter, also seen as the director of the hiring process, on hand during the interviewing process to keep the interview on track, guarantee all interviews are equitable and make sure all important points are covered clearly and accurately.
  • Disregarding non-related factors such as marital status, dependents, political views, sexual orientation, or any other details prohibited by Federal, State, and/or Local regulations viewed as discriminatory.

If you need help with performance-based interviews, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.