What Are Performance Based Interview Questions?

Performance based interview questions are those an interviewer asks about a candidate's past accomplishments. These questions are created and used to help the interviewer gauge how successful potential employees will be in the future.

Recruiters and hiring managers use performance based interview questions to more accurately see the skills and competency of candidates. With the right questions, recruiters learn how motivated a candidate is. Plus, they can easily find out if the candidate will be a good fit in the style and culture of the company.

Performance based interview questions are used across all industries, including county, state, and federal positions. Using these questions, recruiters can get a better understanding of the way candidates use critical thinking and problem-solving skills, both in their personal and professional lives.

Candidates should take specific steps when answering these interview questions.

  • Give detailed information about the situation pertinent to the question.
  • Explain actions and steps taken to resolve the problem or situation.
  • Describe the outcome.

Importance and Overview of a Fully-Validated Performance-Based Interview

Candidates should be knowledgeable of the job's most important performance requirements before they interview. When candidates fully understand the requirements, recruiters can perform a fully-validated performance-based interview. There are several benefits to this interview style:

  • Candidates can properly prepare for the interview.
  • Candidates can prepare an outline of past accomplishments.
  • Candidates understand all the needs and requirements of the job.
  • Minimized formal interview training for recruiters.
  • Save time in the interview process by ensuring candidates are a good fit for the position.

How to Perform a Fully-Validated Performance-Based Interview

  1. Explain the job, position requirements, and the candidate's background.
  2. Increase objectivity for the interview by overcoming first impressions.
  3. Explore the candidate's job history.
  4. Keep an eye out for the Achiever Pattern.
  5. Question the candidate on accomplishments, while keeping an eye out for growth and comparability.
  6. Ask problem-solving questions that are related to the position to view critical thinking skills.
  7. Offer the candidate a question and answer period.
  8. Assess the candidate's interest, the career opportunity, and overall fit for the position.

Hiring Issues

Unfortunately, even the best interviews come with some hiring issues. Problems arise when recruiters place too much value on their intuition or the competency of the candidate. In these cases, underqualified candidates may get hired, while strong candidates are lost in the process.

Solutions to Hiring Issues

Interviewers can negate hiring problems by starting with the right questions. An interviewer can begin with a question asking the candidate about his or her biggest accomplishment in business. The responses to this question provide a chance to delve into candidates' character and skillset.

In addition, interviewers should ask questions that show how candidates would solve a specific job-related problem. With this question, interviewers need to focus on the problem-solving skills and path that the candidate suggests.

Goal-related performance-based questions are an important part of any interview. The interviewer asks questions about a personal or professional goal the candidate has made. These questions should be formatted to explore how the candidate worked toward achieving that goal.

Candidates should keep in mind that a good answer for goal-related performance-based questions includes details about the desired outcome and why the specific goal was set.

In many positions, employees are required to follow orders without questioning their superiors. This is especially true of federal employees and military personnel. Right and wrong performance-based questions are formatted in a way in which the interviewer asks about a situation when candidates were asked to do something against their understanding of right and wrong.

Candidates should answer right and wrong performance-based questions honestly and thoroughly. When posed with these questions, interviewees should:

  • Explain the situation
  • State the instruction given
  • Describe the interviewee's belief of the right course of action
  • Tell whether the orders were followed or not

The ability to work well with others, especially customers, is a crucial part of many jobs. With customer-related performance-based questions, interviewers can explore the communication and problem-solving skills of a candidate. These questions focus on how a candidate dealt with customers who were angry, difficult, or otherwise problematic.

Candidates need to answer a customer-related performance-based question by explaining the situation in a clear and concise manner. Candidates should use this opportunity to show their problem-solving skills by discussing how they de-escalated the situation and ultimately resolved the problem.

When communication is a crucial job responsibility, interviewers should ask communication skills-related performance-based questions. This is especially crucial in jobs requiring the exchange and safekeeping of proprietary and confidential information. The interviewer should request a scenario in which the candidate had to share complex information and/or needed to keep information confidential.

When answering these questions, candidates should keep in mind the confidential information. This requires sharing the experience without giving specifics. Candidates should explain the type of information communicated, how it was communicated, and the outcome of the shared information.

Top Performance-Based Questions to Ask

  • Describe the most creative idea you have suggested in the workplace, and how you worked to get superiors excited about it.
  • When was a time you voiced an uncomfortable opinion in which you believed strongly?
  • What is the most complicated assignment you've had? What was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a decision you made when you were unsure of the consequences and outcome.
  • What steps do you take to communicate effectively when the other person doesn't understand what you're explaining?
  • How have you worked with colleagues to develop them into a united, strong team?
  • Explain a time when you've used your communication skills to influence others around you, even when the situation was difficult.
  • Tell me about the goals you have set for yourself, and how you accomplished them.
  • Give me an example of how you delegate responsibilities.
  • Describe a situation when you presented and sold your idea to a superior.
  • When was a time your written communication skill shone in reports, memos, or other correspondences?
  • How do you create rapport with others with whom you work, especially in a difficult or frustrating situation?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you took meaningful and specific action to resolve a problem in the workplace?
  • Give me an example of how you work in a fast-paced environment that is always changing.
  • When have you had to work on a tight deadline, and what was the outcome?
  • When have you dealt with a difficult customer to come to a successful resolution?
  • Tell me about how you have improved procedures and processes. What was the outcome?
  • How have you shown your functional or technical expertise?
  • Give me an example of how you cooperate and interact with a team to effectively work through a problem.
  • Describe a situation when you were expected to be repeatedly reliable and available. How did you deal with this?

Top Performance-Based Interview Questions and Answer Suggestions

When is a time you suggested an idea that was implemented?

  • Keep in mind that the point of this question is the implementation.
  • Tell a story beginning with the suggestion, how it was implemented, and the outcome.
  • End strong with a positive outcome.

Tell me about your experience in this field.

  • If you have experience, describe and mention all pertinent details, such as length of experience, responsibilities, etc.
  • If you don't have experience in the specific field, be honest. However, match up the experience you do have in a different field with how it will benefit you in this field.

What would you consider your greatest weakness?

  • Many candidates stumble on this question, so make sure you're prepared.
  • Talk about small flaws that are work-related.
  • Be realistic.
  • Explain how you have worked to improve your weakness.

How do you hope this job will challenge you?

  • Interviewers are looking for specifics of what you want in your next position.
  • They also are trying to determine if you are a good fit.
  • Discuss utilizing your experience and skills.
  • Explain how you have found, met, and successfully overcome challenges in the past.

Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a superior, and how it was resolved.

  • Don't say you've never had a conflict.
  • Focus on the behaviors you used to resolve even small conflicts.
  • Talk about working collaboratively.

Do you know anything about our company?

  • Make sure to research the company and even the department inside the company before your interview.
  • Some places to research include the company's website and their LinkedIn page.
  • Stay away from reciting all the facts and figures you find.
  • Discuss the service or product the company offers, how long they have been in business, and the company culture.
  • Talk about how the company culture relates to you personally.

Why do you want to work here?

  • Point out how you identify with the company's vision and values.
  • Discuss how you feel you will work well in this environment.

What makes you the best candidate?

  • Discuss your experience, skills, education, and personality.
  • Give specific examples.
  • Explain other aspects of yourself, such as passion or energy that may set you above other candidates.

What are your salary requirements?

  • Keep in mind that this is always a loaded question.
  • Do not answer this question directly.
  • Re-work this question into another question.
  • Example: "What a great question. Could you tell me what the expected salary range is for the position?"
  • If you must answer, give a wide range.

What questions do you have for me?

  • Do not ask about the leave policy, salary, perks of the job, or other similar questions.
  • Find out how early you can contribute directly to the company.
  • If it hasn't been discussed, ask about an average day on the job.

Fields for Performance-Based Interviews

Performance-based interviews are great for a variety of fields, including:

  • Accounting
  • Advertising
  • Administration
  • Architecture
  • Banks
  • Digital content
  • Engineering
  • Customer Relations
  • Customer Service
  • Human Resources
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing
  • Quality Assurance
  • Purchasing
  • And more…

Tips for Finding a Job: The "Hidden" Job Market

When you're looking for a job, keep in mind the "hidden" job market. In fact, those who can get in to a hidden market can increase their chances of getting the job they're interested in by up to 300 percent.

There are several ways to exploit the hidden job market, and the best sources to find these jobs are through:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Ex-co-workers
  • Field communities
  • HR communities
  • Referrals
  • Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks
  • Recruiters
  • Recruitment ads

Interview Tips: Do Your Homework

Make sure to research before your interview. Preparation shows initiative. Find out what you can about the company itself, as well as the specific position. Doing your homework allows you to fully understand how well you will fit in the company.

Interview Tips: First Impressions

Remember that first impressions are lasting. Make sure you carefully cultivate your first impression.

Outstanding candidates:

  • Are always early, never late
  • Are charming from the beginning
  • Use positive, open body language
  • Leave cell phones off during the interview
  • Are well dressed and look sharp
  • Offer a firm handshake at the beginning and end of the interview
  • Never interrupt. Wait for the interviewer to complete his or her thought and finish speaking before offering an answer
  • Use clear, concise language to express all ideas fluently

Interview Tips: Ask Questions

Make sure that you take the time to ask questions before you leave the interview. Ensure that you know and understand the responsibilities and requirements of the position. Remember that once you leave the interview, you have removed your opportunity to ask any pertinent or important questions.

When you ask questions in the interview, you're showing that you're interested in the position, the company, and how you will fit in.

Ask specific questions that relate to the industry, the company, and the position for which you're interviewing. Do not ask personal questions during your interview.

Interview Tips: Follow Up

Following up after an interview is an often-forgotten, yet incredibly important aspect of the interview process. When you take the time to follow up with the interviewer or recruiter, you're showing that you are still interested in the position. You're also making an impression that helps you stand out from the crowd.

Along with your follow up, make sure to send a thank you note. Sending a note is a way to thank interviewers for spending time with you and considering your application. Show your excitement for the position in your thank you note. While email is the easiest way to send a note for many, sending a physical thank you to your interviewer offers a stronger, lasting impression.

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