Using Behavior-Description Questions as a Starting Point

Last week, at the AYE Conference, I led a workshop called “Conversations with Candidates.” One of the participants wanted to know, “How do I build off a behavior-description question?” I've always led the conversations intuitively, so I had to think for a minute to describe what I do. If the next questions doesn't just come to mind, I use the ORID technique from Art of Focused Conversations

Here's what ORID means:

  • O: Objective. Ask a question that deals with sensory input: What did you notice? What stood out for you?
  • R: Reflective. Ask for interpretations based on reflections: What was challenging for you? What was easy? Where were you surprised?
  • I: Insights. What insights do you have? What did you learn from that experience?
  • D: Decisions. What might you do differently the next time?

Here's how this might play out in an interview. Let's assume you're asking about a person's ability to solve problems. You might ask these questions:

  • Have you been on a project with problems before? (closed question to establish a context)
  • Tell me about it. (Behavior description question.)
  • What did you notice most about that project (or the problem)? (The O question.)
  • Did anything surprise you? or What was particulrly challenging? What was particularly easy? or What was fun? What was drudgery? (the R question.)
  • What did you learn from that project? (The I question.)
  • Have you taken those learnings and applied them to another project? (D question, with a behavior-description slant) or What will you do differently on your next project? (D question, hypothetical.)

There are tons of ways to use these questions in an interview. Put them in your toolbox and see where they lead.

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