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Performance Based Interviewing (PBI)

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Sample PBI Questions

PBI questions focus on learning about a particular performance situation or task, the action taken on your part, and the outcomes of your action. Here are several examples of what you should expect:

  • Describe a situation in which you had to use your communication skills in presenting complex information. How did you determine whether your message was received? (With the original question you are assuming the person did understand.)
  • Share with me an example of an important personal goal that you set, and explain how you accomplished it.
  • Lead me through a decision-making process on a major project you’ve completed.
  • Have you ever had many different tasks given to you at the same time? How did you manage these?
  • Give an example of a time you had to make a difficult decision.

Now that you have an idea of what kinds of questions to expect, the next step is how to answer them. To give a complete answer to a behavior-based question, you must, first, reflect on specific situations that you faced while working (include any volunteering or internships), then, describe the specific action you took, and, finally, the outcome as a result of your actions. The interviewer will be looking for concrete examples not generalities.  A helpful hint would be to remember the initials "PAR" for "Problem, Action, and Results" such as "PAR for the Course." Here's an example:
Problem: Local newspaper subscriptions were declining for the area residents and large numbers of long-term subscribers were not renewing contracts. With the majority of the newspaper's revenue generated from subscriptions, this reduction in renewals would have an enormous affect on the future of the paper, especially employment.

Action: Evaluated original subscription rates and designed a new promotional package that offered special rates for all renewal subscriptions.
Results: Increased renewal subscription by 25 percent over the same period last year. This promotional package not only increased renewal subscriptions and maintains job security for the staff, but also enabled the office to replace a badly needed piece of equipment that could no longer be serviced.

The intent is for you (the interviewee) to tell a story (with a beginning, middle and an end) that conveys how you applied a practical skill. When answering interview questions, be brief and succinct and try not to ramble.

Below is a link to sample PBI questions and description of levels. We've provided descriptions of these different tools to help you prepare for your interview.

PBI Questions -Microsoft Excel Version

PBI Questions- Microsoft Word Version

PBI Questions- Easy to use search functionality enabling you to search by HPDM level, core competency, and words.  (Functionality only open for VA employees)

Description of Levels

Level I—Frontline staff, those who do not supervise others.

Level II— Supervisors, Team Leaders, Work Unit Leaders, those who lead the work of a natural group of people, either temporarily (process improvement team leader) or as an ongoing role (foreman, section leader).

Level III—These Mid-level managers are generally those who supervise Level II staff or division, department, or service line managers.  Level III staff are those in charge of a major function in an organization.

Level IV—Executive leaders, those responsible for the overall functioning and outcomes of the organization.