Guide: Use structured interviewing

Understand behavioral vs. hypothetical questions

There are two kinds of structured interview questions: behavioral and hypothetical. Behavioral questions ask candidates to describe prior achievements and match those to what is required in the current job (i.e., “Tell me about a time…?”). Hypothetical questions present a job-related hypothetical situation (i.e., “What would you do if…?”). This is what some of these interview questions can sound like:

  • Behavioral: Tell me about a time your behavior had a positive impact on your team. (Follow-ups: What was your primary goal and why? How did your teammates respond? Moving forward, what’s your plan?)

  • Hypothetical: Imagine you're working on an email product and a competitor starts charging a $5 monthly fee for their product. How would you assess the situation and what recommendation would you make to your team? (Follow-ups: What factors would you take into consideration when making your recommendation? What are the pros and the cons of your recommendation? How would you assess if this was a sustainable model moving forward? What impact would this have on the organization as a whole?).

Use behavioral questions to test how a candidate responded to a past situation and hypothetical questions to assess a response to a future situation. Behavioral questions are good at revealing patterns of behavior and hypothetical questions allow you to see how a candidate would respond to novel situations.

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