Guide: Behavioral interview for hiring in people analytics

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Behavioral interview for hiring in people analytics

Last Updated: May 27, 2020

If you're like most leaders, you're scrambling to adapt to the "new normal" with a variety of initiatives, such as permanent post-pandemic remote working, return-to-work training, business continuity planning, and so on. The common theme among these actions is to enable the organization to respond to future changes with agility; and their implementation will be guided by opinions from employees.

Nowhere is the importance of making evidence-based business decisions better illustrated than in the People Analytics use case during the COVID-19 crisis. The voice and feelings of employees are now critical data points for you to answer questions such as:

  • What populations are most comfortable with working remotely after the pandemic? What % of the current workforce is ready to switch to teleworking permanently?
  • Do you have sufficient recruiting resources (e.g. hires per recruiter, recruiter/applicant volumes) once the economy reopens and the hiring demand increases?
  • Which employees are best to retrain and upskill for new areas of work?

To determine if your People Analytics candidates will add the most value to your organization, here are the behavioral criteria and questions to select the People Analyst that will add the most value to your organization.

Criteria this guide covers

Interview GPS organizes questions by personal values, competencies, and skills. Click a criteria to explore more questions

Communication Effectively communicates ideas to their manager, team, other internal/external stakeholders and others
Integrity Behaves in an honest, fair, and ethical manner. Shows consistency in words and actions
Results Orientation Focuses on desired results and sets and achieves challenging goals
Stakeholder management Identifies and understands the motivations of anyone who can affect the outcome of a project
Teamwork Combines individual efforts of team members to achieve a goal

Give an example of how you carefully considered your audience prior to communicating with them. What factors influenced your communication?

The first competency that distinguishes excellent People Analytics professionals from mediocre ones is the ability to tailor story-telling strategies when communicating with different audiences.

HR colleagues expect to hear key talent metrics used in the analytics project. Fellow analysts expect to know more details behind modelings and statistical analysis. Senior leaders and project stakeholders are more curious about the business value and impact.


Give us an example of a project where you effectively dealt with various issues driven by multiple stakeholder interests. What steps did you take to make this a success?

Remember, your People Analytics professionals are not the recipients of their project’s business impact. They are responsible for delivering actionable insights for leaders and stakeholders to make informed business decisions.

To manage multiple stakeholders, your ideal candidates should have strong customer orientation. This entails their capability to build trust, maintain rapports, and speak in their client’s language. In addition, they know how to engage and set the expectation for different stakeholders to keep them informed and satisfied.


Can you think of an example of when you have been involved in your organization’s financial decisions? What was your role? What kinds of data did you use in making the decisions?

Ideal candidates are highly mindful of the "Why" behind a given project or initiative. They are driven by purpose and business results, such as increasing equity in compensation, strengthening current hiring models, and reducing employee turnover.


Describe a time when you made a big mistake at work. How did you handle the situation?

Technology allows both private companies and public authorities to make use of personal data on an unprecedented scale in order to pursue activities of their interests. The breach of employee privacy and the abuse of people data will pose litigation risks to your company. Therefore, ideal candidates should demonstrate maturity to ensure data safety and integrity throughout the People Analytics project life cycle: data collecting, wrangling, analyzing, reporting, and presenting.


Tell me about a time you learned something new from a coworker. What did they teach you and why was this meaningful?

Last but not the least, your ideal candidate is a strong team player.

Your People Analytics professionals always work in collaboration with people from a variety of backgrounds: data scientist, data engineer, project manager, senior leaders, IT staff, external vendors… you name it!

It is also important for you to know whether the candidate is open to feedback and can appreciate different perspectives. It is even better if the candidate can consolidate different opinions so the work team is able to formulate relevant solutions that truly tackle the talent issues.

About the Author

George Muyi Nie

George is a graduate student in Industrial-Organisational Psychology at New York University. He is passionate about People Analytics and the world of Tech. He enjoys applying scientific methods and statistical inference to find patterns and insights behind people data in organizations to inform decision-making on Organizational Development, Culture, Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion, and Employee Wellbeing.

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