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Performance-based interviewing – All you need to know 

With the competitive job market that has followed a difficult economy, hiring managers are looking for unique ways to recruit and hire the best talent. Performance-based interviewing is gaining popularity to select candidates that will benefit businesses long term.   

Performance assessments give employers the ability to use evidence-based decision-making in their recruitment process, resulting in a reduction of unconscious bias and providing an effective way of measuring potential.  

What is performance-based interviewing?   

Performance-based interviewing is an interview process that evaluates job candidates based on their experience performing critical tasks required for success in each role.  

In this type of interview, the employer will ask performance-based interview questions that measure a candidate’s skills and abilities beyond the traditional “what are your strengths” or “where do you see yourself in 5 years” kind of interview questions.  

This interviewing process allows employers to evaluate the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for success on the job. It also provides them with an opportunity to observe how well candidates communicate under pressure as well as their problem-solving skills and personality traits.  

How the interviewing process works 

As for how this interviewing method works, it measures candidates on three principles: Context (their past experiences, how they performed, and what challenges they faced), Credibility (how believable they are), and Competency (their ability to carry out specific tasks).  

Employers look for candidates that are able to provide certain examples of when they faced challenges and how they overcame them. The employer is looking for evidence that the candidate has the necessary skills, knowledge, and past experiences to do well at their job. 

The role of performance-based questions 

The performance-based interview requires candidates to draw on personal experience in an organized way. By asking situational questions, the employer is able to assess how well they do under pressure. An important part of this process is ensuring that candidates are comfortable with the type of performance-based questions being asked.  

For instance, some people may be uncomfortable discussing past jobs or describing their worst quality. If a candidate feels tense or nervous about answering specific questions, it becomes more difficult to judge their actual level of performance. 

If candidates are not able to answer specific questions, they may receive lower scores for Competency or Credibility. The candidate will then be considered less experienced or less credible than candidates that can provide evidence of their abilities and past experiences. 

The benefits of performance-based interviews  

Reliable interview technique 

Performance-based interviews are highly effective in assessing the suitability of job applicants. The ‘hire or not to hire’ decision is ultimately up to the interviewer, but research has shown that performance-based job interviews are more reliable than traditional ones.   

When employers use a performance-based interview, they can select candidates that have the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities needed to succeed in a given role. It is also an effective way of reducing unconscious bias because it evaluates each candidate on similar criteria. This means that the interview process tends to be more objective and consistent. 

Efficient method 

Unlike traditional interviewing methods, which include only structured questions and offer few opportunities to present additional information or background about an applicant’s skills, knowledge, and abilities, performance-based techniques incorporate job-related tasks.   

Rather than merely answering interviewers’ questions to convey information about themselves, candidates have the opportunity to demonstrate their potential by providing detailed examples of how they would solve problems, work on a team and operate in diverse workplace situations.  

Look out for problem-solving skills   

By asking candidates to give specific examples of how they have handled situations in the past, employers can determine if these individuals will be a good fit for their company. The best candidates will use this opportunity to frame their experiences in a way that highlights the skills, abilities, and knowledge they possess. 

Since these questions can be tailored to fit specific job functions, candidates need to provide thoughtful and detailed responses during the interview. This component of performance-based interview tests problem solving and critical thinking while giving employers insight into each candidate. 

Follow-up questions 

Employers can also pick up any red flags that would provide insight into a candidate’s work ethic or ability to cope with stress. Interviewers can then ask follow-up questions based on their observations.  

The interviewer can clarify aspects of the performance-based question that was not answered thoroughly in order to verify candidates’ skills and past experiences. For example, if a response indicated trouble with project management, the interviewer may ask them to go into further detail about how they keep track of their projects. 

It also allows the interviewer to determine if candidates are able to shift between different modes of thought, such as being able to shift from a team environment to an individual one. The interviewer will also be able to assess how well candidates work under pressure; these skills are necessary in virtually every industry and sector.  

Increase competitive advantage  

Performance-based interview questions for entry-level positions might ask candidates to describe their experience working in a team, how they handled deadlines, or the extent of their communication skills.    

Performance-based questions for supervisors and managers play a crucial part in sustaining employers’ competitive advantage over other employers in the same industry. This is because this kind of interview question, if properly implemented and administered by the employer, can provide a reliable screen against ineffective performers.  

Examples of performance-based interview questions  

Performance-based interviews give employers better insight into a potential hire’s abilities and skills. The candidate will be able to sell their skills and experience in a more natural way, while the employer’s assessment will rely on facts rather than assumptions.  

Examples of performance-based questions include:  

  • “Give me an example of a time when you successfully resolved a conflict with another person.”  
  • “Give me an example of a time when you had to make a difficult decision.”  
  • “Tell me about a time when you had too many tasks to complete, and you needed to prioritize.”  
  • “Tell me about a time when you faced a stressful specific situation and how you handled it.”  
  • “Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone who was uncooperative and difficult.”  
  • “Give me an example of a time where you failed at a task and tell me what you learned from it.”      
  • “Give an example of a place where you have used communication skills successfully.”  

The answers should be clear and concise, using the STAR method of response: 

  • Situation – what was happening?  
  • Task – what was needed to happen?  
  • Action – what did they do?  
  • Results – results that occurred as a result of their actions.    

While it is possible to memorize sample answers for these types of questions, it is also important to be able to demonstrate the ability to think on the spot and provide real-life examples that showcase your skills and abilities.  

Tips for successfully conducting a performance-based interview  

Plan the interview ahead   

Preparation is key to successfully managing a performance-based interview process. A thorough recruitment brief that details the required roles, skills, and attributes for a position must be created. This brief can then be used as a guide during the development of specific performance-based interview questions for each candidate.   

It’s best to decide on what you want before speaking with candidates (i.e., prioritizing needs). A helpful tip is to ask various questions, including behavioral and situational examples. Asking candidates to provide examples of their failures may allow you to test their thought processes and how they might react in a difficult situation.  

Standardized performance-based interview questions  

However natural it may be, bias hinders the effectiveness of the interview process and in turn, decreases the quality of the hire. How do you keep bias out?   

Standardized performance-based interview questions are the answer. With this approach, each candidate will be asked the same question in an identical manner. This allows you to compare candidates accurately without any bias or subjectivity involved, as well as evaluate applicants fairly. 

Keep an objective view of candidates 

Ensure that you ask all applicants the same performance-based interview questions to evaluate applicants fairly and avoid any bias in responses. This approach provides consistency in the interview process and ensures that each candidate is interviewed for the same skills, making it possible to compare candidates against one another.    

Ensure the scope of questions is appropriate for each level  

Questions should be job-related and relevant to the role. Don’t ask about skills that are not required in the role, or about goals you don’t want to be addressed in the interview. Ensure that junior staff members are not asked difficult professional questions before they have developed their problem-solving skills.    

On the other hand, a question asking a candidate to demonstrate their leadership skills for a managerial position is appropriate and relevant if they are applying for a supervisor role. 

Match candidate responses to organization values 

Each organization has its own set of core company principles that drive decision-making and behavior during working hours. Maintaining standards regarding attitude, communication skills, work ethic, problem-solving strategies, and other relevant factors are important to the organization’s success. Candidates who have strong responses to questions that represent their values are more likely to be a fit for your organization.   

Candidates’ answers should align with the organizational values that are most important for this particular role. Offering an example of when they successfully used one of the company’s core values in a professional setting is a good way to match candidate responses to organizational values. 

Avoid hypothetical or misleading statements   

Keep your interview questions specific and open-ended that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer. It’s important to give candidates enough information about the situation so they can provide detailed responses. However, you also need to make sure the situation is realistic and will offer insight into how the candidate would handle the situation in real life.  

Be prepared with follow-up questions based on each answer that candidates give. This way, if they don’t provide enough information about their specific action or responsibilities, you can ask for more details or clarification.  

Limit interruptions   

During a performance-based interview, do not respond to a candidate’s answer until they finish speaking. Provide feedback only when the candidate has completed their response. However, if the candidate stops speaking, take this as your cue to provide feedback.  

Remember that you are assessing candidates for their ability to do the job, not just for how they’ve done the job in the past. Interviewers can probe for more information if the candidate has no previous experience or gives an example not relevant to the job.   


Performance-based interviewing is a growing trend in the employment sector. Asking candidates to provide examples of real-life workplace situations allows employers to see how they would handle specific issues in the future.   

This type of interview helps reduce subjective bias, increase objectivity, and help ensure that new hires fit nicely within a company’s culture and industry. By implementing this technique, companies can hire top-performing employees and thus increase their competitive advantage over other organizations. 

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Tram Mai
Marketing Executive
A content writer who is keen on interesting ideas and compelling messages
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