5 Important Strategies for Successful Behavioral Interviewing

A Continued Conversation with Dennis Yee, Recruiter

I had the opportunity to interview Dennis Yee, Recruiter for Valley Children's Hospital, and he shared 15 great behavioral interview questions for nurses, which you can read here. In this blog, learn:

  • 5 strategies for behavioral interviewing
  • The main objective of behavioral interviews
  • Why a 15-year healthcare recruiter uses behavioral interviewing exclusively

Chad Harrington

Dennis Yee has asked his entire team of recruiters and hiring managers to “strictly utilize behavioral interviewing questions and processes.” The reason he uses behavioral interviewing, he said is that “it’s the best known way of trying to determine if a candidate is going to be the right fit for us and if they can handle the types of issues they may face in their day-to-day work.”

Valley Children's Hospital

Valley Children's Hospital

I dug deeper to understand a higher-level understanding of his methods for behavioral interviewing. With nearly 15 years of healthcare recruitment, he’s done a behavioral interview or two.

Dennis Yee’s Top 5 Behavioral Interviewing Strategies 

1. Eliminate yes-or-no questions, and ask open-ended questions.

Instead of getting yes or no responses, Yee asks open ended questions like, 

  • Can you share with me a time when you were under stress caring for a patient?
  • What did you do to eliminate that stress?

(A less helpful, yes or no question is: Chad have you ever performed CPR?)

See how they handle role-playing 

He puts the person into a situation to find out how they would handle them if they faced that situation. Once the candidate is role-playing in the interview, recruiters have the opportunity to see their response in specific situations.

Assess candidates’ critical thinking skills. 

Through open-ended questions and role playing, you are able to see how they think. It’s not about right or wrong answers at this point, but about how they answer the questions. You look for things like how long it takes them to simply respond, plus how they actually process the problems.

Observe eye contact and body language. 

Whether they look you in the eye, turn away from you, or any number of non-verbals, assessing their body language will help you assess their fit for the position.

Bonus content regarding body language: "Hiring & Horses: What Do They Have in Common?"

Look for spontaneity. 

Here’s what Yee told me about the importance of looking for spontaneity: “I always like individuals, personally, who not only answer the question, but there’s even a little humor or something that just interjects into it. That to me, in my opinion, shows a more well-rounded individual.”

Relode: What do you look for in a behavioral interview


Dennis Yee: “It’s really the entire package of what that candidate can bring. What I mean by that is first impressions—how is that person presenting themselves? Do they have a sharp appearance? Do they have a professional appearance for the right position? What is their demeanor? Are they making eye contact? Are they smiling? Are they doing all the body language-type things to make us feel accepted and comfortable? Then, from there, respond with a fairly intelligent response to the question.”

“That more than anything impresses me and us as an organization in terms of the person we’re interviewing.”

Got other strategies that should be on this list? Let me know, and don't forget to check out the bonus content on body language: Hiring & Horses: What Do They Have in Common?

Chad Harrington is the Content Director at Relode, the human-powered job posting. Browse Relode's entire healthcare and hiring series here. Follow Relode on Twitter.