I’ve often thought about the value of in-person interviews. How could you possibly get to know someone in 45-minutes, an hour, even a few hours? How could you make a judgment about a person you’ve spent so little time with?
Your new hire is a person you will be working with day-in-day-out, possibly for years. Interviewers feel confident after what amounts to about the length of a lunch break that the individual sitting across from them is the right person for the job, the right person for their company. Reams of paperwork ensue, references follow (very few give bad references), and you have a new team member to work with. A little hasty, don’t you think?
Interview prep has been de-mystified
Nowadays, there is a myriad of resources for candidates to prepare for interviews. Just as quickly as HR professionals and employers come up with interview questions, somebody somewhere has put together a concise, canned answer to share with the world through a simple Google search or a video on YouTube.
Type in Interview Tips into Google, and 1,870,000 articles come up designed to tell a candidate everything from how to be successful from various perspectives to things never to say during an interview. A few hours of research should be more than enough for the average interviewee to effectively prepare for an interview with the ability to both anticipate and answer any questions that arise.
A weak correlation exists between interview success and job success
Many employers today know how well someone interviews is weakly correlated with job performance. As Google noted in 2013, “We looked at tens of thousands of interviews, and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidate, and how the person ultimately performed on their job. We found zero relationships.’
Is there a better way?
Despite the weak correlation between interviews and on-the-job performance, employers are not about to start hiring people at random, flipping a coin, or rolling the dice. For jobs with a high technical component, like an Engineer or an Accountant, there are plenty of available testing platforms that help employers match technical skills. However, intangibles such as work ethic and interpersonal skills are very difficult to measure during an interview.
Doesn’t everyone say they have a strong work ethic and are a team-player?
Here are three ways to improve the validity of in-person interviews:
- Interviewers must first understand that interviews by themselves are inherently an imperfect way of choosing hires.
While necessary, understanding that interviews are not a strong predictor of on-the-job performance is a good starting point. This realization forces interviewers to add more robust components to their interview process, such as testing, asking for previous work samples, and panel interviews.
- Structured Interviews are more valid than unstructured interviews.
Many interviewers have a ‘chat’ with candidates and trust their judge of character, which amounts to flipping a coin. The problem with an informal process is that it is easy to ask different candidates’ different questions; therefore, you are not even comparing apples to apples. A structured interview, particularly a structured behavioral interview, asks each candidate’s standardized questions, which allows the interviewer to compare the responses ideally on a rating scale. Structured interviews require more planning and discipline than unstructured interviews and take practice to get good at.
- Testing and other assessments tools are critical tools in helping to predict job performance.
Wherever you can, test the candidate. Something as simple as an intelligence test, or ideally, a test that relates specifically to the candidate’s work. There are plenty of tests available for candidates applying for technical roles, and personality assessments can help choose those in sales, supervisory, or management positions. However, there are so many different types and qualities of evaluations; this is another topic in itself.
So, what does the future of the In-Person interview look like? Will the programmers in Artificial Intelligence (AI) develop an Algorithm delivered by a robot in the office lobby predict the next perfect hire without an in-person interview? Not likely, not any time soon anyway. Besides, with that kind of interview, the candidate may decide to drop out of the process. Why would a high performing candidate want to work for someone who uses an AI Robot instead of taking the time to meet them face-to-face in the process?