The One Thing You Should Do Before Interviewing Job Candidates

Humor us for a moment and think about your standard hiring process. It probably looks a lot like this:

You post an open job and wait for the resumes to flow in. You review that pile of documents and then choose a few people to come in for the interview. From there, you whittle that group down further until you land on the one candidate who deserves an offer.

Now, ask yourself this: What did you really learn about the applicants through that process? How well were you able to discern whether or not their skills would be a solid fit for that open position?

Sure, you have a grasp on who prefers Times New Roman over Arial. You know who’s able to fire off a somewhat coherent response about their greatest weakness. You know whether their palms get clammy, they play with their hair, or they chew their lip when they’re nervous.

But, when it comes to actual job-relevant aptitudes? Well, unfortunately, you don’t actually know much.

This isn’t the fault of your candidates—instead, it’s a symptom of a hiring process that’s broken.

It’s difficult (arguably, even impossible) to get a grasp on an applicant’s qualifications from only their resume. This leads to quite a bit of educated guessing—and, ultimately, wasted time spent on interviewing candidates who weren’t all that suitable to begin with.

As the saying goes, “Time is money.” So, in order to get the greatest return on your investment, it’s wise to narrow down a highly-qualified batch of candidates before you ever sit down and talk with them. That makes the time you spend interviewing worth it—rather than wasteful.

“That’s why the interview exists!” you’re thinking now, “We can use that time to get to know applicants better and figure out which ones are truly qualified.”

Here’s the bad news: Those interview conversations aren’t nearly as helpful or enlightening as you like to think.

Why Traditional Job Interviews Are Ineffective

Job interviews have been a long-standing staple of the hiring process, so it seems almost disloyal to think negatively about them.

However, plenty of research exists to indicate that job interviews might do more harm than good.

In a piece for The New York Times, Jason Dana, an assistant professor of management and marketing at the Yale School of Management, outlines numerous different experiments he conducted to figure out exactly how much weight these face-to-face conversations carry.

“Research that my colleagues and I have conducted shows that the problem with interviews is worse than irrelevance,” Dana says within the piece, “They can be harmful, undercutting the impact of other, more valuable information about interviewees.”

Research exists to indicate that job interviews might do more harm than good.

Let’s just look at one experiment for clarity. Dana and his fellow researchers asked a group of students to interview other students and then predict their grade point averages for the following semester.

Students were told to make predictions based on the interview, that particular student’s course schedule, and his or her past G.P.A. The student interviewers were also explicitly told that past G.P.A. was typically the best predictor of future grade performance.

In addition to making predictions for the students that they interviewed, study participants were also asked to make G.P.A. predictions for students that they didn’t meet—using only the course schedule and past G.P.A. to inform their predictions.

What happened? Well, the results are pretty surprising.

“In the end, our subjects’ G.P.A. predictions were significantly more accurate for the students they did not meet,” says Dana, “The interviews had been counterproductive.”

So, What Can You Do?

Let’s face it—you likely aren’t going to do away with job interviews entirely. There’s still a lot to be said for meeting candidates in person to at least get a feel for how they’ll mesh with your culture and your team.

But, it’s also important to recognize that resumes and the artificial environments created in interviews aren’t always effective for understanding how an applicant would perform in a specific role. You need something else in your arsenal.

Like what? Thoroughly screening candidates before ever inviting them in for an interview.

Do away with the standard resume, and instead have candidates complete a short assessment as the first step of your hiring process. With that you’ll be empowered to zone in on the top candidates—completely bias-free and based on data.

When you have that narrowed down pool? Provide an additional assignment—such as a test that simulates an actual job-related task—to see how the applicants perform. That will give you the knowledge you need to invite only the best, most qualified candidates in for a conversation.

In short, here’s what a far more effective hiring process should look like:

  1. Ditch the resumes and instead have applicants complete short, skills-based tests

  2. Invite the top 15% of those candidates to complete a lengthier job simulation test

  3. Conduct interviews with only the top 5% of those candidates

  4. Hire the one you believe is the most qualified and the best fit for your role and culture

See? It’s not hard to see how those steps are way more efficient and yield far better results than blindly selecting interviewees from a giant stack of resumes.

Ready to Get Started?

Meeting job applicants face-to-face will always be an element of the hiring process. And, there’s nothing wrong with that—those conversations are a great way to get a better feel for less quantifiable qualifications.

However, you shouldn’t rely on interviews alone to help you find the very best candidates for your open positions—particularly when it comes to job-related skills and competencies.

Instead, flip the hiring process around and screen candidates before inviting them in for interviews. That way, you can rest assured that you’re spending your time meeting with only the cream of the crop.

Eager to get started finding the very best talent? Sign up for Hundred5. With Hundred5’s Test Builder, you can build fully customized pre-employment tests that range from math problems to simple picture assessments.

You’ll set a limit for how many points a candidate needs to earn in order to be moved to your shortlist—providing you with a roster of truly qualified applicants and the information you need to make the best hire for your business.

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