Competition in hiring is fierce right now. The Great Resignation has created a number of vacancies with 4.3 million people quitting their jobs at the end of last year. You may only get one interview completed before finding out your candidate has accepted another position, so you need to make that interview count. Often in interviews, some very unnecessary questions are asked. Having questions that focus on the individual’s job performance and potential can be far more useful and help reduce your time to hire. 


Interviews that focus solely on performance and potential are called Performance Based Interviews, or PBIs. The biggest benefit to this type of interviewing is that it gives you, the interviewer, a real indication of how the applicant would do at your company. According to Indeed, PBI interviews delve deeper into a candidate’s previous experiences. An interviewer asks the candidate about how he or she reacted or handled a specific work situation, helping the interviewer understand past work behavior.   

What Makes Performance Based Interview Questions Unique? 

PBI Questions Require In-Depth Answers 

PBI questions don’t allow for a simple “yes” or “no” response from the applicant. They require the applicant to go in-depth about a situation they have faced in the past, so many applicants experience a very different type of interview than what they are used to. Most interviewees are dominated by the interviewer talking, but in a PBI interview, it is the opposite. 

PBI vs. Traditional Interview Questions 

Traditional interview questions typically look towards the future, the “Where do you see yourself in five years?” line of questioning. But performance based interviewing focuses on the candidate’s past successes and how they solve problems. This type of interview style allows recruiters to see how candidates will flourish and how they deal with issues at work. Through the PBI questions, you can delve into both topics to learn more about the candidates’ past achievements and challenges. So when it finally comes time to make a decision, you have a page of notes that provide your team with a clear direction of how the candidate handles themselves in any work situation. 

Examples of Performance Based Interview Questions 

Below are sample PBI questions, according to Indeed, and the motivation behind asking them. Adopting some of these questions could improve your interview process by giving you a better understanding of how a candidate will perform at your organization. 

  • Describe a time you had to make a difficult decision. This question can help you assess a candidate’s problem-solving skills and reasoning abilities.  
  • Tell me about a time when you had to present complex information. How did you ensure others understood your message? This question gets to the heart of what type of communication skills the candidate has. 
  • Describe a time you had to make your manager aware of an uncomfortable issue. This question can help identify how candid a candidate might be about his or her feelings or concerns in the workplace. 
  • Describe a mistake you made and how you corrected it. This question can help gauge a candidate’s honesty and willingness to accept responsibility for mistakes or errors. 
  • Tell me about a time your workday ended before you finished everything you needed to do. What did you do? This question not only helps identify prioritization skills but the candidate’s willingness to ask for help. 
  • Have you received many different tasks at the same time? Describe how you handled this and managed these tasks. Asking this question helps recruiters understand how a candidate multi-tasks and how he or she handles stress. 
  • Tell me about a situation in which a customer or coworker became upset with you. This question can help highlight a candidate’s interpersonal skills. 
  • Tell me about a situation when you motivated your coworker. This question can help an interviewer assess the leadership potential of a candidate, which is important if the position could lead to a management position. 

Start Interviewing 

With some sample questions in your toolbox, a successful PBI is only steps away. Just remember to let the candidate lead the interview and allow them to continue telling you about their experiences. The more information you have, the better informed you will be to decide when hiring time comes around. Plus, if you get a lot of information from the initial interview, you can reduce your time to hire, beating out the competition and hire your candidate. 

Performance management software can be a powerful tool HR managers can use to facilitate conversations with employees. Arcoro’s Performance Management Software can give you that advantage. It highlights the strengths and weaknesses of your current team so you can better choose a candidate with skills that will complement. 


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