A problem with interviews is that they’re largely dependent on charisma. We’ve all met that candidate who had all the right qualifications but just didn’t make much of an impression in person. We often write off those individuals even though they’d be a perfect fit for the company, and we may do so in favor of a candidate who was personable and charming in their interview. Not every qualified candidate will shine in person.

That’s why we need to be able to look past the interview and view the candidate based on a more holistic process. Interviewing is notoriously inconsistent. Styles will vary based on who’s doing the interview, what they think is most important and their own personal biases. The key to a good interview isn’t to make it the biggest factor in hiring. Instead, it should be a small component of an overall vetting process.

Where Interviews Fall Flat

Interviews are often considered the gold standard in hiring. They’re the part where you make the final decision on a candidate. But consider this: in one study completed over an 85 year period for more than 32,000 workers, it was found that an accurate prediction of someone’s future productivity based on an interview alone occurred only 8% of the time. Think of it this way—if you had to rank 25 people on future productivity, based only on an interview, you would only be right 2 times.

That’s not a particularly good result, especially when you’re considering positions of high responsibility you must hire for. There are many reasons that interviews are flawed as a vetting tool, including:

  • Social awkwardness/anxiety: If you’re hiring for a sales position, yes, you want your interviewee to be personable. But what if you’re hiring for a complex analyst position that’s going to require little human interaction? That interviewee’s ability to make small talk really isn’t going to matter to the company’s bottom line.
  • Dependence on body language: We read things into body language that aren’t true. We may misread crossed arms or a lack of eye contact as a sign of a high-risk individual, when these issues are incidental and incorrect.
  • Personal bias: The interviewer might overlook a qualified candidate because they’re different. This could cause flash judgments where the interviewer will then look for reasons to disqualify the candidate, rather than remaining unbiased. It’s the tipping point where personal bias becomes confirmation bias.
  • Preparation: There are very few professionals who don’t have an answer for, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Or, “What’s your greatest weakness?” People prepare for interviews their entire working lives, meaning that it’s very unlikely you’re going to get a true assessment of them. Instead the only insight you’ll get is how good they are at Googling and memorizing the perfect answer to your interview questions.

The purpose of an interview is twofold. It’s to assess the candidate’s risk, as a bad hire will cost your company money. It’s also to see if that candidate is a good fit for your culture. However, the assessments we make based on these interviews are rarely accurate. The best way to handle this is to leverage a multistep interviewing process.

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Taking Small Steps In Making Better Hiring Decisions

Triage and tiered interviewing processes are the key to improving hiring decisions. Too many companies focus only on collecting applicant information, having an HR screener do an interview, and following up with the background check. A better way to manage this is to triage candidates prior to interviewing, and then adjust that interview accordingly.

  1. Triage with RRA – One good way to get around resume padding is to verify candidates prior to inviting them in for an interview. However, background and reference screenings are usually saved for after you’ve decided, because they’re expensive. You can work around this by having candidates verify the accuracy of their credentials through RRA. Those who pass can then be moved on in the process.
  2. Avoid checklist interviewing – Human resources can be helpful for interviewing, but they rarely have experience in the actual job you’re looking to fill. When you bring a person in for an interview with HR, make sure that the HR manager isn’t just using a checklist or numbering system. Instead, when they decide to pass on an applicant, ask them to write out why. This way, if a candidate has strong credentials, but the HR rep dismisses them for reasons that may be irrelevant to the job (i.e., not enough eye contact), the decision can be reconsidered by the next person in line.
  3. Follow up with a subject matter expert – One step in the process should be having a subject matter expert on the team interview the person on position related knowledge. This allows you to reassess a candidate who might not have a good personality fit, but has the skills needed for the job. Someone familiar with the work will be more apt to understand what can be overlooked and what can’t.
  4. Job-specific testing – After the candidate makes it through these rounds of interviewing, you can ask them to do on-site or online testing for specific job-related tasks. This allows you to try out the candidate’s potential before signing on, to avoid hiring someone who might be great at interviewing, but not so great at the more involved parts of the job.
  5. Complete final checks – Once someone has been through the tiered interview process, the next step is to complete background and reference screening. This is again a point where RRA can be useful, especially when you’re hiring remotely in areas where records are scarce.

The key to this process is to not be entirely dependent on interviewing, but instead, in looking at the candidate as a whole. Not all candidates are going to have a personality that makes them strong at interviewing. That’s why you should tier the interview process to review risk, soft skills, and finally hard skills.

Clearspeed offers RRA as a tool for such assessments. This can be implemented for both remote and on-site hiring, making it ideal when you’re hiring in markets you’re unfamiliar with. For more information, contact us.

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