How Would You vs. How Did You

I led a very short interviewing class when I was in Israel, mostly teaching project management. One of my classes wanted a few tips on how to interview more successfully. I asked them what they were doing now, and they claimed to be asking behavior-description questions and using auditions. Those techniques should work, so I asked for example questions and auditions.

Turns out they were using logic puzzles instead of real auditions. I'm not sure I convinced them logic puzzles are not at all similar to the problem solving people perform at work.But I was able to make some headway on their question types. Many folks were asking questions of the type, “How would you…” instead of “How did you” or “Tell me about a time you did…” We practiced a bit so they could feel the difference in question type.

Hypothetical questions can be useful. But they're not as useful as behavior-description questions for seeing how people have worked at work. With care, you can turn any question from a hypothetical (How would you) to a behavior-description question (How did you).

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