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Is the job interview dead? Or does it just need a makeover?

Is the job interview dead? Or does it just need a makeover?

March 2017 by

A woman undergoing an interview

Face-to-face job interviews have been a staple of the corporate recruitment process for as long as anyone can remember. But what if we told you they aren't always good indicators of a candidate's skills?

Social Psychologist and award-winning author Ron Friedman believes that a lot of interviewees aren't always 100 percent honest because they are scared that the truth isn't good enough.


What if we told you old-fashion interviews aren't always good indicators of a candidate's skills?

Inc. contributor Marcel Schwantes explains that when an interviewer asks about a certain skill, interviewees are acutely aware that they may need that skill for the job. As such, instead of admitting to not having it, they work around it, providing a dishonest answer.

This happens all too often, according to Friedman's research, which calls into question whether standard job interviews are really as effective as we thought.


Addressing inherit interviewer biases

The interviewee is not the only party at fault though. Even with the most honest of candidates, interviewers can still make biased hiring decisions based on completely superficial criteria. Friedman explains research has confirmed that recruiters tend to view professionals with the following attributes in a more favourable light:

  • Good looks – Attractive people tend to be perceived as more intelligent, efficient and qualified than less attractive professionals.
  • Height – Taller interviewees are often considered to possess higher levels of leadership skills than short people.
  • Deep voices – Professionals with lower-pitched voices are viewed as stronger and more trustworthy than those with higher voices.

This is an issue that can be remedied in a few key ways. For starters, employers need to be cognisant of these potential biases and focus on actively judging professional competencies over external qualities.

This should be supplemented by drafting consistent interview questions. Your HR department can help create questions that are framed to measure competency – administering these same questions across the board will help you judge each candidate on their answers over their traits.


Two ladies in an interview

Both interviewers and interviewees have faults that can tarnish the effectiveness of a standard job interview.


The solution: Open and competent interviews

So if interviewees can't be completely trusted to tell the truth and interviewers can't always be trusted to judge a candidate objectively, what's the solution? The answer lies in committing to open-minded interviews with a competency-based focus.

This starts with what we mentioned above, as a leader you must ensure you are approaching every interview with an open mind. Many professionals have the tendency to judge based on their individual beliefs – which can distract them from recognising a good candidate. When assessing a new candidate, you must acknowledge that the ideal employee may not come in the package you expected.


The answer lies in committing to open-minded interviews with a competency-based focus.

The second step comes in the form of centering all questions and assessments on competency. Instead of judging professionals based on answers to abstract questions like "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" or "What are your biggest perceived strengths?", organisations need to create questions that require real-life applicable examples of how they would address a scenario in the workplace.


Take a finance role for example. Have the candidate explain to you how they would approach a typical finance scenario. For companies that have the time and means, provide your candidates with the necessary tools to actually showcase their approaches and how they would use the resources at hand.


This can take the form of role-playing scenarios with interviewers as well. For client relationship questions, drum up a scenario with a disgruntled customer – see how your candidate would handle it. Try creating a situation where a client is particularly picky, give your interviewee time to formulate a few different reactions and solutions.


This approach doesn't mean you have to ditch traditional interviews completely, you can still mix in more abstract questions to get a more complete assessment of your potential employee. The merit here lies in finding a process to effectively assess a candidate's skills without any preconceived biases or the potential for inaccurate interviewee answers. It's an objective approach – they either have the skills or they don't.


A meeting around a laptop

Giving candidates a role play scenario can help employers determine their skill set.


Interviewing in the modern world

Truth is, you're probably not going to completely ditch the old-fashioned job interview. You can add in some elements that accomplish what we discussed above.


Whether it be making a mock campaign part of your process or creating questions that are better suited to what you need in the role, leaders need to rethink the standard job interview in order to acquire candidates that are truly well-suited to fill their roles.


Interested in learning more about what constitutes finding a strong placement? Reach out to one of our Reo reps today for a chat!