The Big Round Table

I had a chance to participate in a very large roundtable discussion on hiring last week.  Also participating were CEOs, other consultants (none I/O psychologists), students and executives of medium-sized businesses

It was a pretty free-wheeling discussion that covered a lot of ground.  I spoke last (or close to it), so I was able to make several observations about the participants’ thoughts about selection.

1)    The over-reliance on interviews was striking.  People thought you could interview accurately for just about everything.

2)    Only one person had any semblance of metrics of how good of an interviewer s/he was (no one I’ve interviewed has ever quit).

3)    The younger participants made a big deal about how an interview goes both ways.  However, they were poor at articulating what they expected from their prospective employer beyond the vague “it has to be a good fit.”  Considering their lack of leverage in this job market they should have a clearer idea about this before rejecting a job offer.

When it got to be my turn I focused my comments on how interviewing was expensive compared to most tests when you consider the hiring manager’s time.  This got some head nods.  The discussion moved towards hiring leaders and the traits they possess.  A discussion of leadership competencies ensued and this provided an opportunity to talk about assessing behaviors, which led to an opportunity to demonstrate how an assessment center works (two brave souls volunteered to participate in a coaching role-play).

The moral is that there is still a lack of sophistication in valid hiring methodologies.  One can either consider this a reason to fret (HR will never fully get it and is leaving value on the table) or an opportunity to provide education (there are HR professionals out there willing to learn and do things differently—they just need the right tools).

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