Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The (lack of) Wisdom of Employment Interviews

With unemployment rates at historic levels many more individuals are applying for fewer jobs. Because there typically is no penalty for applying, many of today’s job applicants are not a good fit a given job. In this economy, selection really becomes critical. Unfortunately, the typical organization is still clutching to that old bastion of selection – the job interview
Despite the fact that many studies have confirmed that job interviews are among the least effective means of making a good hire decision, they continue to be the number one choice among employers. There are a few things employers should consider before simply hiring the best interviewee.
First: Interviews are notoriously ineffective at predicting performance.
Study after study show that even the best interviewers fall woefully short of informing good selection decisions. In fact, interviews rarely exceed an accuracy rate of 10%. Translation: If you hire a good employee via an interview, you probably got lucky. Moreover, nearly everyone with hiring authority has made a bad hire – it’s just too easy to select good interviewees.
Second: Some bad employees are good at interviewing.
The best interviewers may be the worst employees because they have relatively more experience interviewing. Translation: they’ve been relieved of employment more than less experienced interviewees.
Third: The book is out on interviewing.
Who doesn’t show up for an interview with a ready-made answer to the inevitable question concerning your strengths and weaknesses?
At a time when each selection decision becomes critical, we also have many job seekers ‘reaching’ for any job they can get. Now, more than ever is the time to use more effective and efficient means of sifting through the myriad of job aspirants.
Industrial Organizational psychologists are experts in helping individuals and organizations make better hiring decisions. As scientists, I/O psychologists go through rigorous training to become highly accurate in their prediction and placement of people at work. Unfortunately, the profession is still relatively unknown.
Business runs on talented people who share a common mission and commitment to a cause. It sounds trite to say, ‘build a strong team’. But if you think you’re going to identify your next ‘best employee’ via a simple two hour interview, I’ve got a bunch of old lottery tickets for sale.

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