All too often, interviewers rely on the assumption that it is easy to assess a candidate’s fit for a position. Developing your interview process based on this assumption is comparable to laying a building foundation on top of a bog. Reality dictates, rather harshly, that it is difficult to see people for who they truly are. When it comes to hiring an employee; there are so many motivating factors on both ends of the looking glass influencing words and behavior, that a strict system must be implemented to differentiate fact from fiction. In order for us to know how to approach the interview process correctly, we must understand the various pitfalls that exist. While some of them may be appealing at first glance; they all provide little in the way of making intelligent hiring decisions.
- Avoid making post-interview decisions based on instinct. Instinct has shown on multiple occasions to be an inaccurate mode of evaluating candidates. It is too easy for people to fake an interview…provided it doesn’t last too long. Strangers do not possess the baseline or expertise to accurately be able to read one another. Another reason not to rely on instinct is due to extraverts possibly having more potential to shine during an interview than introverts, even though the latter may turn out to be a better employee in all senses.
- Ensure all your questions rate high in validity. When evaluating something or someone, it is vital to verify that the questions you are asking actually test for the appropriate criteria. In the precise world of statistics, this concept is named Validity. Posing a question lacking in validity can be likened to golfing with one’s eyes closed. Phrasing of questions is consequently of utter importance, to ensure that you are not guiding the candidate towards a certain answer. Interviews must be structured, and must also avoid useless repetition of asking the same question in multiple ways.
- Coordinate your interviews if they are conducted by multiple interviewers. Busy managers often allow the entire office to interview a candidate, believing that taking the average perception of everyone would provide an accurate result. While this may not be a terrible idea to assess personality fit towards the office culture and fellow colleagues; these interviewers waste hours on asking the same questions that may or may not be relevant to the job.
- Avoid posing unrelated questions. A gimmicky interview approach doesn’t test for the appropriate criteria. Aggressively interrogating candidates and throwing curveball pseudo-psychology questions may land you the wittiest candidate, but it does nothing to assess job fit, which is the ultimate goal. It is difficult to see the relevance of inquiring “if you were a vehicle, what would you be?” for a fire safety inspector position…unless said position involves working on the set of the latest Transformers film. We have all encountered these questions at one time or another, and have wondered about what role they serve exactly in the interview process.
- Remember your purpose. An excited hiring manager eager to fill a job ASAP, or one who is impressed with a candidate’s resume, will sell the job to the applicant for the entire duration of the interview rather than conducting an appropriate interview themselves. Besides the negative repercussions of rushing through the interview process, the lack of a structured interview negates the entire purpose of the act. A variation of this approach is bonding with the candidate on irrelevant topics like favorite pastimes and sports teams. While a great way of making a friend; this doesn’t comprise the ideal interview scenario.
Great care must be taken when conducting interviews, and understanding the pitfalls to avoid is a first step on the path of finding the ideal employee. Simply by avoiding the aforementioned pitfalls, interviewers can drastically improve their interview and hiring process, and ultimately bring quality employees to their business.