There is an unfairness at the heart of the recruitment process which
rewards those who are good at interviews above those who are good at
the job. The surprise is not that the traditional interview results in
some bad appointments it’s that it ever results in some good ones!
HR have tried to shift the emphases away from the focus on the
interview by introducing an Assessment Centre approach into the final
part of the recruitment process. This is very popular with recruitment
consultants in selecting for senior posts. I have participated in a
number of assessment centres where candidates over a two day period
have undertaken tests to determine their personality traits, IQ and
rational reasoning tests, test to determine their understanding of
statistics and financial reports, intray exercises and even role play.
And in every single case the selection of the successful candidate was
based on the interview.
If you want further evidence of the vagaries of the decision
making in interviews you only have to look at the typical feedback
given to candidates.
“Unfortunately you were unsuccessful, the panel though you were
appiontable but the person appointed had more experience.”
This is not helpful feedback and appears simply intended to
appease the unsuccessful and therefore disappointed candidate. Do they
mean the successful candidate had more years in a relevant post
because we all know people who have for example ten years which in
fact is one years experience repeated ten times, as compared to some
one with three years experience who has acquired new skills and
knowledge each year. Perhaps they mean that they made better use of
their experience in answering questions.
When asked to review the decision making process of interview
panels I frequently found that individuals formed impressionistic
views of candidates despite claims to operate a robust scoring system.
In fact whilst there was often evidence of an attempt to formulate
questions that related to criteria on the person specification little
thought was given to what constituted a good answer. Often the absence
of prior agreement on what constituted a good answer was exposed when
the scoring of individual panelist’s was examined only to find a wide
variation with the answer of a candidate being given a low score by
one panelist and a high score by another. In fact there was often a
suspicion that individual interviews formed an opinion about a
candidate very early in the interview and then bent their scoring to
fit this view.
The traditional interview is unscientific and subjective but
despite this fact being generally recognised it persists because those
who undertake interviews think they are good at it. Which means
organisation’s will continue to appoint people who are good at
interviews rather that good at the job.
Blair Mcpherson former Director , author and blogger