What Kind of Questions Can Be Used to Do a Behavioral Science Interview?

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    Definitions

    • Behavioral science examines how people act individually, in groups and within organizations. From a law enforcement perspective, for example, behavioral science can help analyze criminals and terrorists to identify common characteristics and behaviors. This is commonly known as "profiling." In the social sciences, behavioral science helps research the effectiveness of programs and resources by learning more about what special needs populations need and how to best service those needs. Employers rely on behavioral science to better gauge how potential employees might benefit their workplaces based on past performances or theoretical solutions to problems.

    Interview Types

    • Behavior science interviews can occur in different ways. In law enforcement, behavioral science experts might interview criminals about their thought processes when planning and executing crimes; they might also interview witnesses or victims to learn more about what criminals said or did during their interactions. In the social services realm, intake specialists might interview clients about their past experiences receiving social services, what their expectations include for present or future services and what needs they might be experiencing. Employers may intertwine behavior-based interview questions with more traditional questions to learn about their potential hires' previous experiences and work ethic.

    Question Motivation

    • Different kinds of questions may help interviewers gain a clearer picture of their interview target. Easily verified factual questions might establish a truth set point; interviewers can observe how their client behaves and speaks when answering basic "easy" questions such as where he or she was born. It can also demonstrate a clients' willingness to fib or fudge the truth. Other questions might ask the client to identify past experiences that illustrate a particular behavior or preference. This allows interviewers to observe their clients' thought processes and critical thinking skills while introducing additional information. Behavioral science interviews can also ask clients how they might behave under certain future or theoretical circumstances, allowing additional insight into critical thinking and personality.

    Example Questions

    • Easily verifiable behavior questions might include queries such as, "Have you used illegal drugs in the past 24 hours?" or "Were you asked to resign from your last job?" Interviewers may already know the answer to these questions or have ready access to the answer, but want to see how clients or potential employees handle tough questions. In asking clients to delve into past experiences, questions might include, "Tell me about a time when you successfully handled interpersonal conflict in the workplace," or "Why did you stop seeing your parole officer?" Theoretical questions might include, "What steps would you take if you knew a colleague was stealing from your employer?" or "Would you consider going back to school to increase your competitiveness on the job market?"

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