Why is the traditional interview viewed as a sometimes ineffective predictor of future performance? Here are some of the most common reasons for this fact.

1) Making up your mind within minutes of meeting the candidate:

Research has shown that interviewers make up their minds in less than four minutes of shaking a candidate’s hand. They spend the rest of the interview interpreting what the candidate says in a way that is congruent with their first impression.

For example, they are more likely to brush off the blemishes of a favoured candidate’s history as just a bit of bad luck, while viewing sceptically the accomplishments of a less favoured candidate. To interview more effectively, managers must recognise their personal biases and objectively measure candidates on their past behaviour.

2) The Halo Effect:

This is letting one factor alone influence everything else about the candidate. Not everyone who has graduated from the best colleges, or with top marks, has excelled in the business world and your top competitor has probably hired their fair share of duds. Where they worked or went to college is never as important as what they did when they were there. This can also manifest itself as the ‘Horns Effect’, where one factor such as appearance etc, may negatively influence the opinion of the interviewer in spite of all the other achievements that the candidate may have obtained.

3) Asking predictable, opinion – based questions:

Questions such as “What are your strengths and weaknesses”, “Where do you hope to be in five years?” provide very little insight into what really motivates individuals. What you find out instead is how well the person has prepared for the question and has crafted a response that you want to hear. If you insist on asking these questions, try following up by asking for concrete examples that would indicate how their strengths and weaknesses have worked for or against them in the past. Or try asking what they have done in the last five years that would indicate that their five – year plan is a realistic one.

4) Not probing vigorously:

Managers often accept unsupported or vague claims instead of probing for details. For example, a candidate says “I doubled my area’s sales within the first year.” Does this mean that sales went from one million to two million or twenty thousand to forty thousand? Get all the facts. Find out exactly what they did to attain their achievements, and, most importantly, ask for the name of the person they were reporting to during that time. You will find your candidate’s success stories will suddenly start sounding more realistic.

5) Being unprepared:

By not reading the candidate’s résumé until they are in the reception area, or worse, in your office, you are sending a negative message: “I don’t care about you. This is not a people – orientated company. I am not going to be paying too much attention to your responses to my questions.”

The candidate returns the favour by providing vague responses and mentally registering your company as a place to work only if nothing better comes along. By not reviewing the résumé you are missing a great opportunity to impress your candidates with your knowledge of their past, build rapport, get candid responses to your questions and probe their work history.

6) Placing an over emphasis on the can-do:

Things like education, industry experience and technical credentials instead of the will-do things like attitudes, motivations and temperament. Will-do factors have been shown time and time again to be the factors that lead to success or failure in a job, yet managers rely on a combination of can-do factors and gut feeling to make decisions.

Remember, what they did is never as important as how they did it. Your ability to assess will-do factors can be greatly enhanced by using Psychometric Assessments. Personality tests are 2 to 3 times more effective than the traditional interview, providing the traits measured are those deemed critical for successful performance.

7) Asking Leading Questions:

For example, “ABC Menswear runs their stores like boot camps. How did you like working for them?” If you keep your own opinions out of the question, you will get more objective, meaningful responses from candidates.

8) Not carefully determining the job requirements:

We often make assumptions about job requirements and hire based on those assumptions, only to find out that the assumptions work against successfully filling the position.

For example, companies may limit their candidate pool by specifying a college diploma or greater for a position, when what they really need is someone with good problem solving skills. Worse still, many employers recruit without a current job description for the position. This is like baking a Christmas cake or Plum pudding without a recipe!!

9) Over-selling the position:

When we see a candidate who really excites us, we tend to present the job in a way that they will find appealing.

For example, if we are interviewing an energetic, assertive person for an administrative assistant position, we may emphasise the autonomy and opportunities for advancement that the position provides, when what the job really requires is someone to type memos all day long. What you end up with is an employee who, in addition to being deeply dissatisfied with the job, feels they have been lied to. They won’t last long in the position.

10) Hiring the best of a bad lot:

Searching for the right candidate can be a long and arduous process. Sometimes when we reach the end of that process we find that no one on the short list meets our criteria, although some may be close.

When faced with the prospect of starting from square one, managers often elect to make sacrifices and the hire the best of a bad lot, a process that costs them dearly in the long run.

The cost of having to de select and re – hire is always greater than the cost of delaying in a staffing decision. Starting over will save you money in the long run. It will also have a more positive impact on the rest of your staff by letting them know that you take your people seriously.

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