By: Yvette Gemignani-Olmo

HR trends come and go, but job interviews have stood the test of time. However, recent research has found interview performance isn’t necessarily a great predictor of on-the-job performance. In fact, people who do well in interviews can often distract hiring managers from a better candidate.

Interviews have remained popular, some experts say, because we innately think of ourselves as a good judge of character. A hiring manager might think if they can just sit down with each candidate, they will be able to tell who will be a good employee and who won’t.

Unfortunately, ‘gut instinct’ isn’t a reliable judge of character. Even worse, gut instinct is very prone to personal bias, which can have a severely negative impact on an organization’s diversity.

Losing the Plot

Interviews provide us with so much information, social scientists say, they draw our attention off more pertinent information. Great interviewees are natural storytellers who can weave details into a meandering narrative, and these stories end up being a poor predictor of how well an applicant can do a job.

Focusing on Objective Information

Rather than putting a lot of emphasis on interview performance, hiring managers should prioritize what they hear from candidate’s references, who have years of experience working with the person. Hiring personnel should also focus on objective information like sales figures or GPA, which is essentially a gauge of academic performances and teacher opinions.

Why an Interview Still Matters

Invariably, hiring managers will still want to establish a personal connection with potential hires. In fact, interview performance is especially useful for jobs that place a high value on interpersonal factors and group dynamic.

When conducted properly, interviews can also be an effective tool for increasing or maintaining diversity. If a company is looking to add people with different backgrounds, interests and talents, the best way to find these candidates is to speak with them face-to-face.

Structure Is Key

If you are going to bring applicants in for interviews, the interview ought to have a predetermined structure, and the candidate must be judged on criteria associated with the job. By developing a fixed group of criteria, hiring personnel can combat bias that most of us have towards other people.

For instance, if you are hiring someone to write code, you should have them write code or explain their approach to a code-based problem. The more an interview relies on a well-conceived structure, the better it will predict performance.


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