How Interviews Can be Too Much of a Good Thing

I was listening to a local radio show and the host and expert were talking about the rise in the number of interviews candidates are being asked to go through.  I didn’t hear any data to support this claim (perhaps it was given before I got into the car), but the conversation about interviewing, including call ins) caught my attention.  It was filled with all kinds of bad practices and assumptions about the interview process that can be easily addressed.  These included:

  • Lots of people should get to conduct their own interviews. The biggest issue here is that different interviewers are going to hear different information from the candidates.  Or, hear the same information, but interpret it differently.  This means that determining who did the best in the interviews can become a debating contest among interviewers rather than an evaluation of the candidates’ skill and abilities.  Having a panel of about 3 interviewers conduct a single interview will be more accurate in that everyone will hear and evaluate the same information.  Then any disagreements in interpretation can be based on the same set of data.
  • The more interviews, the better. Somewhat related to the above, there is only so much relevant information that a candidate can give a company.  One good structured (see below) panel interview will tell you what you need to know.  Everything else is costing you staff time with very little return on the expenditure.  The streamlining of the process also makes for a better candidate experience, which can pay off in the engagement of those hired and your reputation as an employer with those who are not.
  • Interviews are the best way to learn about a person’s skills and abilities. This may be true if your interview is well constructed, including:
    1. Questions are written based on reviewing the skills and abilities required for the job instead of using a “favorite” question.
    2. Candidates for the same job are asked the same questions.
    3. There is an objective scoring guide used to evaluate answers to the questions.

However, if your interview is more free flowing, then there are several types of techniques (such as ability tests, asking a person perform part of the work expected, and personality tests) which are much better.

I appreciated that the hosts mentioned that effective selection systems use other assessments in addition to interviews.  You should also remember that different selection tools measure different things and that interviews rarely can cover all of the skills and abilities required of many jobs.

The moral to this story is interview less and interview better.

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