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Performance Based Interviewing (PBI)


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During the Performance Based Interview


Important screening questions about your overall background may be asked.  For example, you may be asked about your authorization to work in the United States, your educational history, your willingness to relocate or travel, or other basic information.  However, the bulk of the interview will be spent asking questions about your background and experiences.  Consider that not only are the interviewers interested in your answers, but they are also interested in your process for coming up with your answers.  Keep in mind that some behavioral questions will take you a few moments to construct your answers.  The interviewer will expect you to give adequate thought to your responses.  However, if you have practiced your interviewing techniques well in advance, you will be more focused and in a better position to answer questions that you had not anticipated.  Do not speak too quickly as the interviewer may have difficulty understanding you.  Pausing briefly will give both you and the interviewer time to think and reflect.  Do not be afraid of silence

Remember that you must project a positive impression and demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the job.
As with any interview, it is only natural to experience anxiety. With PBI, the interviewer will expect you to talk about yourself by describing specific examples of how you applied knowledge, skills, and abilities to work situations.  The expectation for specific instances can bring on a sense of apprehension.  You can prepare for a PBI by thinking about the job you are interviewing for and identifying what areas you think are important for success.  Then, think about your accomplishments that match the job criteria and how you can describe what you did, how you did it, and the outcome.  Speak in concise terms about relevant experience.

Do not be modest in describing your qualifications or you can eliminate yourself from further consideration. PBI is an opportunity to brag about yourself to prove to the interviewer you are the best person for the job.  However, be honest about your accomplishments.  The interviewer may want to check with others to confirm that you’ve done what you’ve said. 

With PBI, you are afforded the opportunity to highlight your skills, abilities, personal qualities and enthusiasm for the position.  For the prospective employer, the interview is an opportunity to gather information about a candidate’s experiences that were especially challenging and required a great deal of perseverance.  More importantly, PBI gives both you and the interviewer the advantage of judging whether there is a match between your qualifications and the employer's needs.

A benefit of PBI is that the interview sessions are consistent. Each candidate is asked the same series of questions.  The questions are targeted to the work history and behaviors in various settings to elicit information about real-life situations and are specifically related to the job.  By structuring the interviews in this method, the applicants are fairly and consistently evaluated and judged in their responses to the same questions.


Messages are conveyed during the interview not only by what you say but by how you say it.  Positive nonverbal communication will reinforce your verbal message.

  • Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and introduce yourself. Firm Handshake
  • Always be positive; avoid negative words and phrases as much as possible.
  • Maintain good eye contact at all times.
  • A good interviewer will make a serious attempt to build a positive rapport with you, usually through small talk about weather, current events, sports, etc. at the beginning of the interview.  Be certain that you participate in the conversation; don’t just smile and nod.
  • Be enthusiastic about the position, the organization, your skills, and how you can contribute to the organization’s success.
  • Smile! A pleasant and relaxed smile will keep both you and the interviewer at ease.
  • Try to minimize:
    • Irritating Habits – such as tapping your pen, twirling your hair, looking away from the interviewer, moving your legs, or drumming your fingers.
    •  Filler Words – such as “ummm,” “like,” y’know”
  • Sit comfortably, maintain good body posture.


  • Always listen carefully to the question, ask for clarification if necessary and make sure you answer the question completely.
  • Remember that it is impossible to control all aspects of an interview. If you encounter a question you are unprepared for, do your best and then move on.
  • View the interview as a give-and-take, two-way conversation where you are gathering valuable information to help you make the best career choice possible.
  • Don’t try to dominate the interview.  Let the interviewer guide the questions.  View each interview as an opportunity to learn and refine your interview skills.
  • Do not expect to receive a job offer during the interview.  A decision will not be made until all candidates have been interviewed and a second interview with a higher level official may be necessary.  Generally, you will be contacted by Human Resources.
  • You will be given the opportunity to ask the interviewer a few questions, and should use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of and interest in the organization and position.
  • You may have the opportunity to make closing remarks in your interview. Touch on qualifications that you did not have a chance to discuss, and inquire about the next stage in the process. Restate your enthusiasm for the organization and position, and thank the interviewer for his or her time.