The job interview is still the most popular selection tool when hiring new employees. Not much has changed over the past decades. Unfortunately, what has also not changed, is the fact that too many hiring managers (and recruiters) still conduct unstructured interviews. This despite the fact that we have known for years that the validity of unstructured interviews is lacking. Already in 1994, the Journal of Applied Psychology published a meta-study by Michael A. McDaniel highlighting this. The study, based on data of over 80.000 individuals, shows that interview validity depends, among others, on how the interview is conducted (structured vs. unstructured; panel vs. individual). Feel free to read the entire study. It will be worth your time!
Old news? Even boring maybe? Probably so. But why do so many people still find it so hard to apply this common knowledge when the truth is in front of you so clearly? Here’s why I think that people (still) conduct unstructured interviews. You may want to validate this by asking people around you why they behave the way they do.
Many people will probably state a lack of time. They will tell you they are simply too busy to prepare an interview script before meeting candidates. When diving deeper, they may even confess that they hardly look at the CV before meeting the candidate. Busy, busy, busy. Honestly? For me a lack of time really means a lack of interest. There is always time for important things and what can be more important than hiring the right person in your team? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the price of a bad hire is at least 30 percent of the employee’s first-year earnings (Forbes, 2016). Time to do the math.
But there may be something else going on:
The hiring manager who has hired so many people in his career thinks he has seen them all . Unfortunately, it often is a ‘he’ since women are much better at hiring, but unfortunately still under represented in management roles. Obviously, he has made it to this level of management and there is a good reason for it. Nobody needs to tell him what to do. He knows best. And there he goes again… without structure or plan, he starts interviewing the candidates. Searching for a person like his fantastic self. Sounds like a solid strategy does it not? Or could there be a benefit of having a diverse team of personalities and backgrounds? And maybe recruitment should be a required MBA class from now on?
Interesting read: The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews (the New York Times)
Now here is something that we do have control over. As a matter of fact, I co-founded Cammio on the principle that structure in interviews would reduce bias and help companies make better hiring decisions. Using an online interview platform provides you with a toolset to support (read: manage) your hiring manager to start applying the principle of structured interviews. In an automated interview, structure is a given, since all candidates remotely answer the same script with video recordings. In a live interview the recruiter can even add to the validity by comprising a panel and also prepare a structure of questions. Technology can even help you interpret the answers by analysing content, tone-of-voice and micro-expressions to generate personality reports.
So maybe it is time to bypass the lack of time (I mean interest) and the fact that some hiring managers have limited self-reflection. When you jump to technology immediately, you will be able to demonstrate in real life that structured interviews deliver higher validity. This will deliver a long-term trend of less bad-hires, longer tenure and better performance. What is not to like?
The job interview is here to stay. Now let’s make the most of it! Happy Hiring.