Screening, Assessment, Interviewing

What’s Wrong with the Average Interview?

While many organizations are perfectly happy with their recruiting process, others have found that even with the best of intentions they still end up with an inordinate number of bad hires. Bad hires can be costly in many ways—not only are there literal costs involved in hiring, training, and eventually firing and replacing someone, but there are also indirect costs like lost productivity and decreased employee morale.

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With that in mind, many recruiters are continually looking for ways to improve the recruiting process and to make better hiring decisions. Revamping the interview itself is one such change. Let’s take a look at some of the problems associated with typical job interviews, and then we’ll outline a few tips to avoid some of these issues.

What’s Wrong with the Average Job Interview?

Here are some of the potential pitfalls associated with interviews, along with tips to avoid them:

  • Interviews can make the employer overconfident in a candidate, which can exacerbate disappointment later. This happens because people tend to rely heavily on gut instinct, which may or may not give us a good answer when it comes to a good fit for the job and the company—especially in the relatively short interview process.
    • Tip: Don’t rely solely on the subjective interview process. Include more objective measures as well (whenever possible), such as assessment testing, work samples/tests, or the use of interview scoring sheets to assess the interviewee’s answers.
  • Interviews can actually be a legal minefield. There’s a chance that an interviewer will (likely unintentionally) ask a question that implies a discriminatory bias. Or perhaps there’s inconsistency in how different applicants are treated—either way, it creates a situation in which there are chances for discrimination claims.
    • Tip: Provide training for everyone involved in the interview process. This can help to reduce the chance of an interviewer making a legal misstep. Also, have a consistent set of questions to ask; this can help to not only compare candidates more directly, but also to combat the appearance of unfairness or unequal treatment.
  • Interviews introduce bias into the process. We’re all human, and we have biases that we may not even be aware of. We may make judgments about people based on their appearance or accent, for example. There are a lot of factors that we take into account subconsciously—and those factors may not make any real difference to the person’s ability to do the job well. It makes it more difficult to be completely objective in the assessment and get the best candidate for the role. In fact, each of us have factors that we subconsciously weigh more heavily—and those factors can give an unfair advantage or disadvantage to a particular candidate, depending on how we perceive them in light of the biases we hold.
    • Tip: When training those involved in the interview process, consider including training in recognizing bias.
  • Interviewers often become fatigued by the process, and this can cloud judgment. For example, when interviews are conducted back-to-back, the interviewer can end up creating comparisons quickly rather than evaluating each person on individual merits. That may not sound bad on the surface, but no one wants to take the candidate who only looks good in comparison to another candidate who performed poorly.
    • Tip: Try to assess each person individually. Consider using a scorecard to reintroduce a more consistent assessment. Alternatively, consider utilizing alternative interviewing techniques, such as recorded video interviews in which the candidate is recorded answering written questions. This alternative method can allow some space and better evaluation of candidates.