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I've been iterating on your mind map a little @seancorfield. I'm considering dropping the best/worst project in favour of asking more direct behavioral questions. Why do you prefer the context of worst project when asking about a time something went wrong, rather than just asking about it?


@dominicm Not sure I follow your question. Could you elaborate?


The branches indicate general question areas rather than specific questions -- and the candidate will often volunteer answers in those areas without needing to be guided, if they feel they can just talk freely.


The context of those first two "trunks" is intended to be an easy on-ramp to get the candidate talking about a project they enjoyed (for whatever reason) and get them comfortable, being enthusiastic, positive, and then leading them into the less enjoyable experiences. I've had candidates who were not able to describe a "best project" -- only negative ones -- and I've had candidates who got really carried away describing "worst projects" where they volunteered all the answers (and more) without much prompting...


What would you consider "more direct behavioral questions"? (my experience is that if you ask candidates questions that are too direct and/or too specific, they have a tendency to tell you what they think you want to hear instead of being honest)

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@seancorfield The trick, I'm finding, is to ask about an experience rather than "what they would do" or whether they agree with a statement I make. If the candidate doesn't have experience to line up, it's quickly clear that they can only hypothetically answer rather than actually answering.


A clear example for sales (not software, but hear me out) is: "If a customer was rude to you on the phone, what would you do?" "I'd be polite of course" vs "We have to deal with rude customers as part of the sales process. Tell me about a time you dealt with a rude customer" "One time a customer called me a name, and I ..." It's OK to tell them what you want to hear, because they will need to be able to relay what they actually did. Obviously they could lie, but that's a different matter 😛


So far I've found that the conversation based on the mind map goes more in the direction of the latter rather than the former -- because I'm not asking them about hypotheticals but about specific experience.

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If they don't have past experience of a situation, fair enough, they're not going to volunteer that -- but they've never had a "bad" project, you're still going to need to ask hypotheticals about how they might handle certain situations...