I recall a meeting with my HR team in my last organization where we were discussing on quality of talent that our organization was able to attract. After some deliberations on some of the concerns related to the availability of talent, locational concerns, and expectations of the good talent, etc., the discussions steered towards the ability of some of our Managers to interview effectively with a decent rate of success.
That led me to think about the whole process of Interviewing and how much value the corporate world is giving to this most critical but often “taken for granted” tool. Interviews are used the world over for hiring, transfers, promotions, and for selecting leaders. Sadly, this tool is not given the importance that it deserves.
Can we judge everything 100% in a normal interview – if yes, then why do we have other tools like – Group Discussions, Psychometric Assessments, BEI, Stress Interview, Interview based on Critical Incidents and Competency-Based Interview? Since the answer is a NO – then how can we structure our thoughts, questions, and most importantly our attention to the process of an interview – a “normal interview”. By normal interview I mean, the interviewer is not specifically trained to interview by using any tool/technique.
Let’s spend some time to examine, what are some of the concerns or challenges faced by organizations.
- It is a tendency amongst most of the interviewers to select candidates who are “just like myself” or worst still – “inferior to myself”. So automatically such candidates score higher ratings even though the job does not require someone “just like you” & certainly not “inferior to you”.
- Often the evaluator is overly impressed by one or more personal characteristics (i.e. great looks). And they mistakenly assume that everything about the candidate is positive because of that single exemplary factor – a phenomenon known as ‘Halo’ effect.
- If an interviewer has had several bad interviews in a row, the next person who performs better may be inaccurately rated as outstanding, simply because they are so much better than the recent poor performers. The reverse effect is also possible.
- Often interviewers spend almost all of the time trying to find a reason to reject the candidate, and as a result, they miss the candidate’s positive aspects. In some cases, negative responses are given twice the weight, so a candidate can be mentally rejected after a single error.
- Interviews are often very short, making a realistic assessment difficult. And due to time and business pressures, managers often eagerly make snap, first-impression decisions, which can be inaccurate. Comparing candidates who had interviews of significantly different lengths is also difficult.
- If a candidate is the first in the interview process, he is less likely to be hired than if you are the last candidate. Unfortunately, where you appear in the order of interviews impacts your odds of success.
- Even the place where the interview is held (if it is not consistent for all candidates) can influence the candidate’s assessment (i.e. lunch interviews produce different results than conference room interviews).
- Interview scores tend to vary, based on the candidate’s interpersonal and communication skills, but a given job may not require even average interpersonal skills. Thus some jobs (i.e. receptionist, salesperson, and recruiter) lend themselves to being assessed through interviews, while for some other jobs (like programmers, artists, and R&D personnel), interviews may be horrible predictors of the candidate’s on-the-job success because they work alone.
- Shy, nervous, and slow people can be assessed poorly even though the job does not require speaking up or boldness. Similarly, the reverse is also prevalent – some interviewers are so smitten with candidate enthusiasm and passion that they fail to accurately assess other important job requirements.
- Unfortunately, many interviewers spend more time talking than listening during interviews. Most interviewers don’t leave equal time for the candidate to ask questions and to present information that they want to present, which can frustrate them and then limited information is used to make the decision.
- Sometimes interviewers act inappropriately by taking phone calls during interviews, canceling and rescheduling interviews, changing location at the last minute, appearing disorganized, or even asking illegal or silly questions. Such behavior is disrespectful but it may also scare away the top candidates. Candidates often say they rejected an offer because of the way that they were treated during the interview process.
Is everything lost then? No, fortunately, many organizations have multiple levels of interviews by different interviewers, so hopefully, some of these concerns get negated. But just imagine if a good candidate is rejected because of any of the above-mentioned reasons.
The organization should, therefore, start investing in training their Managers on interviewing techniques and also analyze what are the concerns faced by the organization to correctly address the issues.