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How Hard Should You Make Your Company’s Job Interviews? November 16, 2013

Posted by Darwin in Uncategorized.
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A résumé is like a specification sheet or brochure. It lists all the important facts and figures, but doesn’t tell you how the candidate will actually perform in the role. That’s why you hold interviews. These are your opportunity to weigh up the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate and determine the best person for the position.

Unfortunately though, interviewing is at best, imperfect. Interviewed in the New York Times in June 2013, Laszlo Bock, senior vice president for people operations at Google, said they found little correlation between interview results and job performance. That’s one reason why forward-thinking companies are placing greater emphasis on technology solutions like advanced Applicant Tracking Systems. These can sift large numbers of applicant résumés, help produce better shortlists while eliminating unintentional biases. It’s also why some interviewers resort to posing complex or highly abstract questions in interviews.

In recent years technology companies, like Google, have gained a reputation for posing difficult “brainteaser” types of questions. But, interviewed by the Washington Post, writer William Poundstone commented that such questioning is “frowned upon by the human resources staff.” And Google’s Bock also noted, “we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time.”

HR professionals, like Lynley Williams, recruiting director for Progressive Insurance, tend to favor behavioral interviews. As Williams told Glassdoor.com, “Companies that use this approach believe that past behavior is a good indicator of future performance,” so questions take the “Tell me about a time when… ” format.

These questions tend to be challenging for interviewees, forcing them to go beyond the rehearsed answers and dig deeper for real examples. Such interviews are often perceived as being more difficult, simply because the candidate has to work harder.

Interviewing of course depends on individual’s perceptions. Some companies try to average this out by having candidates meet with multiple interviewers. Business Insider recently reported a case where someone interviewing at Amazon met with nine different people over the course of eight hours. That may be going to extremes, but a look at Glassdoor’s list of the most difficult companies to interview at suggests thoroughness has some correlation with business success.

Interviewing will always be a difficult and subjective part of the recruitment process. Modern technology can improve consistency and reduce bias, but it’s hard to see the face-to-face conversation ever going away. Instead, successful companies seem to be making interviews harder in an effort to do a better job of finding the best person for the role. Perhaps you should be too.

To track all of your job interviews, whether they performed well or not, be sure to utilize the latest in Applicant Tracking System technology.

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