Infographic is at the bottom of this page.
Of the numerous vital, strategic, and tactical decisions organizations face, which people to hire is among the most critical … and the most enduring. A good hire can have a decades long effect on the culture of the company. Conversely, a poor hire, one that wasn’t thoroughly considered or done hastily can have quite the opposite effect. Even those without “director, manager, or chief” in their title can have a tremendous impact on a company’s reputation, and its bottom line.
The main tool used in the hiring process for most companies and organizations is the employment interview. Typically occurring after an initial round of screening hundreds (thousands?) of applications and filtering through perhaps hundreds of resumes, the interview generally takes place as an unstructured, face-to-face meeting. “Unstructured” being the primary problem with interview accuracy. Surprised? Read on.
Usually job candidates are invited into an office and offered a seat while the interviewer comes from around the desk to make the process seem less intimidating … ‘Tell me about yourself” “What’s your greatest strength/weakness?” “Where do you see yourself in five years?” “Why should we hire you?” “Tell me about a time that [X] happened” … like just a couple of old pals having a chat. But while the conversational job interview is widely used by virtually all organizations, its effectiveness in predicting future job performance is highly contested by those who study the outcomes of the interview process.
Think back: Have you ever had to fire someone? Have you ever regretted hiring a certain employee? Recall that at the time of the hire, in many cases they were the best thing since sliced bread. So what happened?
According to researchers Bazerman and Moore’s 2009 study, the overall consensus of interview research is that “job interviews do not work well.” Several other researchers claim that interviews do not work at all as a singular measure of selecting top performers.
Interviews conducted in the ever popular, loosely structured conversational format mentioned above, are highly susceptible to the inﬂuence of social dynamics, societal norms, social constructs, and interviewer bias. Why? Because at our core, humans are limited information processors whose ability to discern and rate relevant performance characteristics rarely match reality. We’re subject to multiple types of cognitive bias, fail to notice data that doesn’t match our preconceived ideas, set arbitrary standards for interviewee performance, and make ill-times, superficial evaluations. And that’s on a good day.
For most positions, interview performance is at best, weakly related (if at all) to actual performance. For example, extroverted, amiable, friendly, sociable people often make more positive interview impressions than those without such characteristics. However, these traits are often less critical to job performance than other, less immediately observable traits, such as conscientiousness, personal accountability, planning & organizing, and emotional intelligence.
One notable piece of research (Barrick 2009) concluded that “the manner in which interviewees conduct themselves, including the use of impression management tactics (such as engaging in self-promotion), can inﬂuence interviewer ratings over and above the degree to which those skills are required for job performance.” In other words, interviewers can be hoodwinked. Given the state of employee disengagement and the continual challenge of talent acquisition, interviewers are perhaps hoodwinked more often than we’d like to think.
1. Introduce real structure to all interviews by asking specific questions relating to the job. Those questions should be the same for each position so that answers can be compared between candidates. Additionally, a structure like this can reduce the risk of lawsuit since you’re treating each applicant the same.
2. Recognize the risk of bias in the interview process by having at least three people interview each job candidate. For minor positions, it may be two different people; for major positions, you may need to bring in as many as four or five interviewers.
3. Once those interviews are complete, each interviewer should be able to compare notes with the others.
4. Perhaps MOST critical to the process is to know who your target applicant is by performing a validated job benchmark. By benchmarking the position, you’ll have a complete list of the Key Accountabilities the job requires for superior performance.
5. After several applicants have made it through the interview round, filter them through he Benchmark to insure they match the behaviors, motivators, de-motivators, acumen, core-skills and perhaps even the Emotional Intelligence the job requires.
6. Set up a weighting scale – for example: Interviews 25%, Benchmark 30%, Experience 15%, Accomplishments 15%, and Education/Training 15%. This scale will assess your organization’s risk with this hire.
7. Stop thinking there is a magical interview question or set of questions that will reveal everything you need to know about a candidate. There isn’t. And job candidates are constantly rehearsing the interview, practicing the questions you’re going to ask, and reading up on your company so you’re impressed.
The more data you can gather on a job applicant (within reason) as well as the position itself, the better your decision will be. Today, gathering the appropriate data isn’t difficult, nor is it time consuming.
At Corter Consulting, we want to help you make your company the best it can be – and that all starts with the people you decide to hire.
Certified as a Professional Behavioral, Motivators, and Emotional Intelligence Analyst, Ron Haynes specializes in using the science of TTI’s TriMetrix HD to help companies select and develop their top management talent, create genuine Job Matching System solutions, and implement succession planning for key management positions.
He has recently developed an auditing process to help organizations more accurately calculate true cost of employee turnover. It’s staggeringly higher than you think.
Need a solution to your employee challenges? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 870-761-7881.